Girls soccer: Oswego, West Aurora play to a drawOswego's Hunter Coppes puts a shot on net against West Aurora in Oswego on Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 26, 2012 10:46PM
With a chilly wind cutting diagonally across the field, Thursday’s nonconference tangle between West Aurora and host Oswego came down to breakaways versus barrages, but the defenses succeeded to produce a 0-0 stalemate.
The scoreless deadlock, which follows last season’s 1-1 draw, was Oswego’s third straight contest without a loss as the Panthers previously posted an impressive 0-0 draw against Waubonsie Valley, followed by a 7-0 thumping of Yorkville.
While Oswego moved to 5-9-2 on the year, West Aurora now stands 6-7-1.
“Any time you avoid losing there’s a positive in that alone, knowing they tied Waubonsie and were at home, this outcome can still give us a confidence boost,” West Aurora’s Reilly Kulakowski said. “Of course we would have preferred to win to put us in a better spot for the postseason. I think we’re definitely doing a better job of connecting passes, but today we didn’t finish.”
In this case, finish translates to finding the back of the net since the visiting Blackhawks had the two best opportunities of the opening half. Yulissa Espino received a pass directly in front of the Oswego net, but the West Aurora freshman had her five-yarder stopped by Panther goalie Amy Annala, who also made a stop on a breakaway by Blackhawks scoring leader Jessica Saffell.
“We played hard and did a nice job of connecting, but we just couldn’t finish today,” West coach Laura Wagley said.
With the wind slightly in Oswego’s favor for the second half, the Panthers came out strong putting seven shots on goal before West Aurora was even able to get the ball past midfield. That came on another Saffell breakaway that was once again stopped by Annala, who chalked up Oswego’s seventh shutout for the year.
“We thought we gave the ball away too much in the first half so our focus to start the second half was on passing and finding feet, and whenever there was an opportunity to shoot,” Oswego coach Jamie Bartkowiak said. “I think the whole team has improved across the board and we’re doing a much better job of moving the ball.”
That emphasis on getting the ball to teammates was echoed by Panther senior tri-captain Hunter Coppes.
“After the first half we knew we needed to pass directly to each other rather than into the air,” she said “We did a lot better job of finding feet; unfortunately we were really unlucky when it came to finding the back of the net.”
Oswego did finish with an 18-9 advantage for overall attempts and a 10-6 edge in shots on frame. The Panthers gained their 7-3 lead in corner kicks by earning six of their tally in the second half.
West Aurora’s fourth clean sheet for the year was a combined effort with Sammie O’Brien protecting the net for the opening 21 minutes and Cadmiel Rocha preserving the zero for the rest of the match.