In a shortened season, getting that first victory is more important than ever. With stifling defense and a few well-timed offensive chances, Manchester Valley prevailed 3-1 against Westminster on Monday for its first win of the fall season.
After a stalemate for the first 10 minutes of the game, the Mavericks broke through with a goal at the 23-minute mark. After a throw-in, Man Valley senior Madison Allen gathered the ball just outside the box and fed teammate Amelia Wisniewski streaking toward the net.
Wisniewski tucked the ball under diving Westminster junior keeper Sydney Hetrick and inside the opposite post for a 1-0 lead.
“I was in the right place and right time” Wisniewski said of her goal. “I am happy with the way we came out. We definitely played a lot harder tonight. We were ready to go.”
Man Valley (1-1) controlled the tempo all night long, employing an approach that focused on limited Westminster’s chances and controlling the ball.
“We have been working a lot on controlling the tempo in the back and moving the ball side to side,” MV coach Hogan Allen said. “We have been really focusing on keeping the ball, keeping control especially in the finishing third.”
Westminster (0-3) had its scoring chances but could not find the back of the net. Shortly after the Mavs took a 1-0 lead, the Owls had an open look from the top of the box. Off a corner kick, senior midfielder Izzy Gillcrist gathered the ball and sailed a shot just over the crossbar.
“We made some careless mistakes in our defensive third and they capitalized on those mistakes,” Westminster coach Dannielle Midkiff said. “I thought we moved the ball well. We definitely pressured them. We had a lot of opportunities. We just couldn’t finish.”
The Mavericks struck quickly after the half and went up 2-0. Following a throw-in, junior Avery D’Agati won a battle for the ball and lofted a shot at the goal from outside the box. It was a perfectly placed ball over the keeper’s outstretched hands and just under the crossbar.
The Mavs added insurance around the 9-minute mark with a goal by junior Taylor Shank for a 3-0 lead. Allen said he was proud of the effort his team put forward defensively despite being undermanned.
“Weird season obviously that we are into,” he said. “Started two sophomores in the back, one has never even played defense before.”
The Mavs just missed out on the shutout, as the Owls capitalized on a scoring chance in the final four minutes. Following a corner kick, senior midfielder Cami Miller won possession and split a pair of Man Valley defenders before beating the keeper to her right to add a little excitement in the final moments.
It has been a disappointing start to the season for the Owls, who are hoping to get back to full health and get back on track in their next contest.
“We are running pretty ragged,” Midkiff said. “We have two of our starters out, we have four other kids out. We are the walking wounded. We did the best we could, obviously we fell short and that is a disappointment.”
Goals: MV-Amelia Wisniewski, Avery D’Agati, Taylor Shank; W-Cami Miller
Assists: MV-Madison Allen
Saves: MV-Grace Buttiglieri 5; W-Sydney Hetrick 6.
Halftime: MV, 1-0
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