An early aggressive approach Tuesday by Westminster paid off in a big way.
Owls’ junior forward Ella Boussy cashed in on a chance in the first six minutes to give Westminster a lead it would not relinquish on the way to a 2-0 victory over visiting South Carroll.
“Pressure, pressure, pressure,” Westminster coach Danielle Midkiff said of her team’s strategy. “It was definitely [our] teamwork. This team has really jelled. They’re young and they are jelling really nicely. Nobody’s selfish. They are all in it together.”
With just under 35 minutes to go in the first half, the Owls (1-0, 3-1) earned a free kick as senior Taylor Speigle was knocked to the ground on a charge into the box. Junior Emma Youngling corralled the kick and zipped a pass to Boussy on the right side of the box.
Boussy then lofted the ball over South Carroll (0-1, 2-1) sophomore keeper Brooke Turner to give the Owls a quick 1-0 advantage.
“Taylor took an outside kick. The ball deflected off one of their defenders and I just happened to be standing in the box to put it in,” Boussy said. “It’s different than last year. We are figuring out how to finish and score goals this year. [We are] working together as a team.”
Westminster stayed in the attack position for much of the first half, keeping the ball in the offensive zone and creating numerous scoring opportunities. It paid off again with another strike from Boussy as the clock wound under two minutes to go in the half.
Turner was caught out of position after saving a shot off the foot of Speigle. Boussy was in the right place as a gratuitous bounce put the ball right in front of her. The junior skipped the ball inside the far post and the Owls had a 2-0 halftime lead.
“They’re a good team,” South Carroll head coach Andrew Isacco said. “They pressed us up high and it kept us locked into our defensive end. Give credit to Westminster. Ella Boussy is everything that [coaches] say she is. You have to keep track of her or she will do what she did to us.”
A swarming defense helped the Owls control the clock in the second half and rack up a heavy advantage in time of possession. In picking up the shutout, Westminster keeper Sydney Hetrick was not challenged often but proved to be up to the task each time.
Shortly after Westminster scored first, Hetrick made a sprawling save in a crowd to preserve the lead. Later, at the 30-minute mark of the second half, Hetrick had a brief scare.
On a seemingly routine save, the ball squirted under the keeper and rolled toward the goal. The senior reacted quickly and picked up the ball just before it crossed the goal line to maintain the clean slate.
Hetrick’s biggest save came with 22 minutes left on the clock. Cavaliers’ sophomore Maddie Witter split the Owls’ defense and earned a one-on-one chance against Hetrick. The senior keeper was able to get a piece of the hard shot and deflect the ball wide of her goal.
“Syd is definitely a leader on this team as one of our captains,” Midkiff said. “She reads the game well and she knows when stuff is happening, and she is not afraid to come out on it. She really leads our defense with her voice.”
South Carroll had a lot of difficulty maintaining any offensive momentum as the Owls defense created turnovers at the midfield stripe and used pinpoint passing to move the ball deep into the Cavaliers’ end all game long. Toward the end of the contest, the Cavs finally put a little pressure on the Owls with a couple of scoring chances in the final four minutes. It was an encouraging sign for Isacco despite the final result.
“I was happy they kept fighting,” he said. “They never stopped. Especially at the end, we brought some people off the bench that gave us a shot in the arm. I was happy about that.”
Westminster 2, South Carroll 0
Goals: W - Ella Boussy 2.
Assists: W - Emma Youngling, Leslie Vasquez.
Saves: W - Sydney Hetrick 7; SC - Brooke Turner 6.
Halftime: 2-0, W.
JV: 4-1, Westminster