Girls Soccer: Geneva defense wears down Royals
Both Geneva and host Rosary entered Saturday’s nonconference match boasting stingy defenses, but in the end the visiting Vikings proved to be too strong in posting a 4-0 triumph.
The final tally was misleading in that the Class 2A Royals were holding their own with 3A Geneva until late in the first half when a scramble in front of the Rosary net enabled Michaela Loebel to park an eight-yarder from left of center. While that strike came 2:29 prior to halftime, it was the Vikings’ next goal — just 1:56 into the second half — that made a huge difference.
Amanda Lulek’s cross became a textbook 5-yard header for Catherine Allon in helping Geneva improve to 8-2-3.
“We knew we had to step up our play in the second and that included picking up the speed of our play,” Allon said. “Actually we had some great connections even before Amanda’s cross. Once we got that first goal, the momentum really swung our way.”
Rosary coach Kristy Kane had to admit that goal was pivotal in Rosary (9-2-0) enduring only its second loss of the year.
“I don’t think we gave up, that early goal definitely hurt us,” Kane said. “Their first two goals were nice goals and demonstrated their ability to pass the ball well, but the last two reflected that we were tired.”
In the opening half, both defenses and both goalkeepers had strong showings. Rosary goalie Lauren Frasca had six of her 11 saves in the opening 40 minutes while Geneva keeper Marissa Schroyer was quick to credit her defenders for the Vikings’ ninth shutout. With 10:27 left before intermission, Rosary scoring leader Quincy Kellett (team-best 13 goals) eluded an out-rushing Schroyer only to have Tory Herbst race back to clear a potential open-net, go-ahead tally for the Royals.
“I definitely have to credit our defense for this shutout and Tory’s play was a prime example,” Schroyer said. “Communication has been a big part of our defensive success. I’m always working with them to make certain everyone from the other team is marked.”
Having dodged that bullet and managed a 1-0 lead, Geneva coach Megan Owens used halftime to rid the Vikings of any complacency they may have had coming off a 2-0 Upstate Eight River triumph over rival St. Charles East followed by a 1-1 draw with No. 5-ranked Neuqua Valley.
“While it’s tough to get up for each game, we struggled a little bit too much in the first half,” Owens said. “That half was more individual play while the second half was more team play. Scoring two minutes into the second helped us regain our focus.”
Although the scoreboard stayed at 2-0, Geneva’s shot tally continually mounted throughout a second half while Rosary didn’t generate any second-half offense until late. In total, the Vikings boasted a 22-11 advantage in attempts and a 17-5 edge for on-target attempts. With 2:28 left to be played, Loebel got a steal and came in from the right side for a six-yard strike. Just under a minute later, Loebel earned an assist on Allon’s second goal.
Prior to Saturday, Frasca and the Royals had also compiled eight shutout performances while yielding a mere two goals.
“It was certainly a challenge playing (a 3A opponent), but I also thought we could’ve done better. Geneva may have been a little surprised by us early,” noted Frasca, who was familiar with most of the Vikings because of club ball. “We got tired and slowed down and as our transitions slowed down, we backed off some and they capitalized on that. There’s no doubt they have more players with club experience and that can show late in a match.”
Despite the setback, Kane agreed that the challenge was still a positive.
“Playing 3A programs helps prepare us for the playoffs,” Kane said. “We’ve got some really good programs in our conference. Wheaton Academy and St. Francis, but we can’t always count on getting a shutout, so we needed to see again what it’s like to play from behind and the need to comeback. Obviously there’s always more to learn and more work to do.”