|Lady Jays hold off Wildcats in ‘Shootout’|
|Friday, September 06, 2013 12:00 AM|
By JIM METCALFE
DELPHOS — As one might have expected from Thursday’s yearly Crosstown Shootout girls soccer tussle between St. John’s and Jefferson, it wasn’t going to be a rout.
The host Lady Blue Jays dominated the first half and the visiting Lady Wildcats — in the eyes of head coach Josiah Stober — came out with much more fight in the second but in the end, the Jays held on for a 2-1 triumph on a brilliant late-summer afternoon/evening at the St. John’s Annex.
“We knew Jefferson would come in ready to play, so we’d have to play well for 80 minutes, especially at home. You always have to play well at home,” St. John’s coach John Munoz said. “We tried some different combinations tonight than normal; a few worked and a few didn’t. We can keep working on those things. We keep getting better at the little things each time out.”
Stober wasn’t so happy after his team’s first half.
“We didn’t come out with the effort and intensity I felt we needed to play a good team today. We struggle to put a whole match together; we usually have a good half and one not as good,” Stober explained. “They got two quick goals on us and we were fighting from behind the whole time. We’ve got some freshmen that we’re plugging into key spots and it’s a learning experience for them, as well as everyone else.”
After both teams tried to figure things out for the first 10 minutes of the matchup, the Jays (3-3-1) had the first good look of the afternoon and made it pay off. Off a corner kick from the right side (the Jays held a 8-4 edge for the contest there), senior Madison Kreeger booted a beautiful pass to sophomore Erin Williams in the middle of the 18-yard box. Her 1-touch from 14 yards hit the left post and junior Jefferson keeper Kayleigh O’Conner (11 saves versus 15 shots on goal) couldn’t grab it for a 1-0 lead at the 28-minute mark.
Williams had two more good tries in the first half: a 14-yarder at 23:40 that O’Conner put the clamps on; and at 8:12, when her shot off another corner kick was deflected wide by a defender.
The Wildcats’ (2-3-1) best chance in the first half was at 12:35 when junior Bailey Miller’s try from the right side was denied by Jays’ sophomore netminder Samantha Wehri (2 saves versus 5 shots-on-goal).
The Jays got what ended up being the match-winner at 3:14 when senior Jessica Koverman stole the ball in the Jefferson end, and after a short run to the right wing, pooched a 14-yard lefty shot over the top for a 2-0 edge.
For Jefferson, the halftime break was exactly what the Red and White needed.
They controlled the ball much better the second half and pushed forward more.
They had a great chance at 34:09 when freshman Arianna Knebel had a chance in front, getting control from 14 yards and finding the left side of the cords for a 2-1 deficit.
Both teams had openings from then on but couldn’t quite get good enough looks — or enough possession — to find the back of the net.
At 22:52, after a dangerous sequence in front of the net, Kreeger had a couple of chances: one hitting the right post and the second getting commandeered by O’Conner.
At 22:07, senior Samantha Bonifas missed just over the bar for the Jays.
At 15:43, Bonifas lofted a shot from the left side that O’Conner juggled and finally got the stop.
At 8:06, Jefferson junior Kylee Haehn — with Wehri a bit out of position after a sequence — fired a 25-yarder from the left side that just missed over the top.
At 4:38, she had another 25-yarder from just outside the right wing but couldn’t curl the ball into the net.
The Blue and Gold nearly put it away at 3:55 when Bonifas had another great chance — a 16-yarder from the left side — but O’Conner deflected the orb off the crossbar and cradled it for the stop.
“We lit a spark in the girls at the half and they responded well,” Stober added. “We did the things we’ve been working on and striving for better and fought back. We had much better effort. What we need to work on now is to do these things for 80 minutes. We’re making great strides in all the little things: the skills, the communication; that make for good teams. We need to put a whole game together; we haven’t done that yet.”
Munoz felt his team had its chances as well.
“I felt we had better chances the second half than the first but we couldn’t finish them for whatever reason: not enough control, bad luck, good stops,” Munoz added. “At the same time, we created those chances. We are doing that more and more; we’re putting ourselves in the positions to put the ball in the back of the net. We need to finish them off more consistently but we’re getting there.”
St. John’s, on a 3-match winning streak, hosts Ottawa-Gladorf 11 a.m. (not 1 p.m.) Saturday, while Jefferson hosts Lincolnview 5 p.m. Monday.