By Frank Foreman
With a slew of underclassmen and a handful of injuries, it’s been a tough start to the 2013 season for the Maplewood girls soccer team.
That difficult start continued Wednesday as North East came to town and handily earned a 6-0 victory over the Tigers at the Maplewood Elementary School field.
Maplewood was held to just three shots the entire game, compared to North East’s 19.
Maplewood (0-4, 0-2 Region 3), an inexperienced team that includes just three seniors, were overmatched early as the Grape Pickers kept play in the Tigers’ half of the field for nearly the entire first half.
Five minutes into the contest, North East’s (1-3-1, 1-2-1 Region 3) Macy Putman took a perfect pass from Breanna Klenz and took off on a breakaway, ending with a shot that beat Maplewood keeper Savannah Mona to make it 1-0. Mona, normally a defenseman, got the start in goal due to injuries to the top two goalkeepers on the Maplewood roster.
At the 20 minute mark, Klenz was back in the action as she found open space from 20 yards out and nailed a shot past Mona to make it 2-0, putting the Tigers in an early hole.
“We just didn’t come out and attack the ball as hard as we should have, and we stood back too much,” Maplewood head coach Ted Eriksen said.
The score would stay the same heading into halftime, but a handful of nice defensive plays by Scarlett Peterson and Mona in net kept the Tigers in the game.
Late in the first half, North East’s Morgan Hopkins was taken down in the box, setting up a penalty kick and a chance to put the game out of reach. The right-footed Hopkins drilled the ball just below the crossbar, where Mona was there with outstretched arms to tip the ball into the crossbar and out of danger, keeping the game within striking distance.
“(Mona) did an excellent job, and she’s not even a keeper,” Eriksen said. “She’s played enough soccer to have a good idea of what to do. It’s a hard thing to get thrown in to.”
By halftime, Mona had seven saves, and dealt with a lot of action in front of the net as North East worked the ball for nine corners.
A reenergized Tigers team took the field in the second half, only to be deflated just five minutes in when Putman put a cross into the box, and Maplewood did North East a favor by kicking it in its own net to make it 3-0, deflating the Tigers in the process.
If that wasn’t bad enough, moments later, Putman was making noise again as she broke free on a short breakaway and collided with Mona while the keeper was trying to make the save inside of the box.
Putman was issued a yellow card for her uncontrolled play into the keeper, but the real blow went to Maplewood as Mona stayed down, injured on the play. Mona was helped off the field, and was replaced by freshman Brittany Waters.
Maplewood, now down to it’s fourth keeper on its roster, was tested right away as Putman buried a pass from Ellie Szul to make it 4-0.
Waters, who did an admirable job filling in, made her best play of the contest when she shut down a Putman breakaway less than five minutes later to keep it a four-goal game. That deficit wouldn’t last though as Klenz stole a goal kick and promptly scored to make it 5-0 midway though the second half.
The final tally of the game came off the foot of Putman, scoring with eight minutes left in the match to give North East the six-goal advantage.
“We came back and played a lot stronger in the second half,” Eriksen said. “Both of our keepers were out today, and the girls in net our not goalkeepers. They were just thrown in there, and that’s hard on them.”
There was plenty of time for the young Maplewood team to get quality varsity experience, but those growing pains on the field were visible early on. Though it was rough throughout, Maplewood had a more solid and fluent approach during the second half.
“We had key offensive players missing. We are a very young team,” Eriksen said. “We were playing almost all freshmen and sophomores today. But they held their own, so they are happy with it.”
Putman led the way with a hat trick for North East, while Klenz had two goals and an assist in the win. North East finished with 10 corner kicks to Maplewood’s four.
The score, as well as all offensive statistics, fell in favor of North East, but a big takeaway for Eriksen was that his team never showed signs of quit, despite the game getting out of hand in the second half.
With such a young group, that is certainly a positive to build from.
“We are a motivated team with kids that really want to play, and they won’t quit,” Eriksen said. “We’re happy about that. They played hard until the end.”