By Pete Chiodo
Three was the magic number for the Conneaut girls soccer team on Tuesday. The Lady Eagles scored three goals, senior forward Keri Scott had a hand (or foot, rather) in all three, and the Eagles recorded their third victory of the season, 3-0 over Region 3 opponent Maplewood.
“At this point in the season, we will take all the wins we can get,” said Conneaut head coach Brian Kebort. “No matter who we play, we’re just happy to win.”
The win improves Conneaut’s record to 3-12-1 on the season and 3-7-0 in Region 3.
Maplewood slipped to 0-15-1 overall and 0-10-1 in the region. Yet, even with the loss, Tigers head coach Ted Eriksen was pleased with how his young team played.
“I thought they did exceptionally well, actually,” said Maplewood head coach Ted Eriksen. “We still have a little trouble with the finish. We’re still working on that aspect of the game. But our midfield played very strongly.”
Even so, the Tigers couldn’t hold back Conneaut for long.
With just under four minutes elapsed in the match, a Tigers penalty gave Scott a direct kick from just outside the upper right corner of the penalty box, putting the lefty in an awkward position to strike.
“I wasn’t really ready to shoot, but they were all yelling, ‘Shoot it! Shoot it!’” said Scott. “I’m a lefty. So I had to shoot it with my right. It worked, I guess.”
Scott let loose and the ball arced into the top left corner of the goal, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Conneaut continued to press the issue on offense throughout the first, out-shooting Maplewood 8-2 during the half.
Yet, the Eagles wouldn’t return to the Tigers goal until there were about 13 minutes left in the period.
Eagles junior midfielder Brooke Phelps made a nice play on the sidelines to keep the ball from going out and at the same time forwarded it to Scott for a breakaway.
’Wood goalkeeper Samantha Hall came out from between the pipes to challenge Scott. But Scott scooted the ball past her and into the goal to make it a 2-0 game.
“Being a freshman, I’d much rather see (Hall) being aggressive than backing up into the goal and giving up easy shots,” said Eriksen. “She made (Scott) work for it. Handling breakaways for a young keeper is really tough.”
Maplewood played well to start the second half, keeping the ball down in its offensive end for much of the time. But they still only put a shot or two towards the Conneaut goal thanks to some quick work by the Eagles defense.
“The fullbacks did a good job covering each other,” said Kebort. “We tried to get them to be more aggressive at the point of attack. We wanted somebody to be up and the others to drop back and cover for her. So we did a good job on that. They did get a couple balls past us, but people covered for them and cleared it out.”
Conneaut eventually turned the momentum back into their favor.
“I think in the first half we were really into it,” said Scott. “But towards the second half we were a little off. And then coach kind of got us back up there again.”
With about five minutes remaining in the game, the Conneaut forward line found itself on a three-girl rush towards the Tigers goal and Scott with possession.
She crossed the over to Phelps. Phelps one-timed it into the open half of the goal. The final marker was on the board.
“That Scott girl, she created some tremendous opportunities for (Conneaut),” said Eriksen. “She’s a good player, very generous with the ball.”
Monica Farley needed four saves for the shutout victory in goal.
“She faced a couple shots, not real hard,” said Kebort, “which is good for her because she’s been taking a beating. She bruised her ribs a couple games ago. And it hasn’t been too bad on her unless she takes one in the ribs. It’s a little sore, a little tender.”
It wasn’t an entirely pain free match for Farley, though. She and Maplewood forward Rachel Balbula collided hard in the box midway through the first half. Both were down for a little while. Farley, even though she was in some pain, stayed in the game. Balbula left for the remainder of the first, but eventually returned and finished off the contest.