Girls Soccer: Abby Joyce comes up big for Naperville Central vs Oak Park
Updated: March 13, 2012 9:09PM
Abby Joyce made the most of her starting assignment in Tuesday’s 3-1 nonconference win over visiting Oak Park.
The Naperville Central sophomore forward, who saw varsity minutes mainly during the postseason last year, scored her team’s first two goals as the Redhawks won their season opener on a sunny evening. She figures to start regularly this season, with a starting lineup that features seven seniors.
“I feel a lot of pressure to get those goals ‘cause I am the forward,” Joyce said. “And I kind of like the pressure ‘cause I know that I can only go up, and my teammates are depending on me, so I really try to pull through for them, and myself, and the team.”
Joyce struck for her first goal just 5 minutes, 40 seconds into the action on a cross from senior midfielder Katherine Short, scoring from 15 yards. Her goal stood up as the only scoring in the first half, though Naperville Central recorded eight shots on goal in the period.
The Redhawks kept Huskies senior goalkeeper Katy Oldach (12 saves) busy all game, especially during the seven-save first half. Though they failed to pad their lead before the intermission, the Redhawks probed the Oak Park defense and felt confident heading into the second half.
“At the first half, we were kind of figuring out what their defense was and kind of experimenting with different balls and once the second half came around and we had been experimenting a lot, we were able to figure out the gaps in their defense and we were able to take advantage of the opportunities that we did have with them,” Short said. “So I feel like, going into the second half, I felt a little more prepared for what was coming (and) I knew what to expect, so I feel like we were able to take full advantage of the opportunities that we had.”
Naperville Central’s defense also did its part, when tested, in the first half. Senior keeper Jill D’Amico (two saves) made a spectacular, leaping save in the first half to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.
Huskies senior midfielder/forward Mogbaola Ana Agboola fired a shot from 30 yards out that D’Amico was able to bat away as she connected with the ball at the pinnacle of her jump.
Joyce tallied her second goal in the game’s 57th minute, taking a feed from reserve senior midfielder Paige Silver and depositing it into the net on a perfectly aimed 25-yard shot. Senior midfielder Maddie Thompson made the initial pass to Silver that set up the play.
Oak Park responded with a goal by sophomore midfielder/forward Ruby Gonzalez in the 66th minute. Fellow sophomore midfielder Erin Schrobilgen got the assist.
Short capped the scoring with a header from 10 yards, with Thompson again getting the assist on a perfectly played pass from the left side. That came with just under six minutes remaining.
Afterward, there was one aspect of the game both coaches could agree on: The Redhawks’ effectiveness in controlling the aerial game.
Citing stats from the game, Oak Park coach Ignacio Ponce said Naperville Central won the headers battle 28-8 in the first half and 50-32 in the second half.
This is the one thing that I take from the game as a real positive: The ball in the air was won by the Redhawks more than it was lost,” Naperville Central coach Ed Watson said. “And if we can do that consistently—if we can win balls in the air—then we’re going to be able to be successful.”
The girls of Oak Park’s underclassmen-laden roster admitted to Ponce their nervousness prior to the game.
“I think I’ve really stressed that we’re a family, and going into this, we protect each other, we play as a unit and we win and we lose as a team,” Ponce said. “I can only give them so many words and the motivation comes from them.”