The score didn't reflect it, but it was a tight battle between visiting Howard and Atholton Wednesday night. But in the end, the Raiders were the only team who found the back of the net.
"Oh yeah, finishing," said Lions coach Bali Boule after the 3-0 loss. "Otherwise I thought we played pretty well, but you can't win if you can't score and you can't win when you let them score three goals on you."
The first 30 minutes Howard dominated much of the game, out-possessing Atholton. The Lions tried playing balls across and over the top to their forwards, but the Raider backline played strong and disallowed anything too dangerous on net.
"I think it goes back to experience," said Atholton coach Stephanie Stoutenborough. "They worked all four of them back there last year. During our scrimmages we were a little rusty, so we were working on getting them a little more organized, communication and I thought they did a great job today. Each game they gradually been doing a little bit better and I think the first 30 minutes they kept us in the game."
It had been all Lions for the beginning of the contest, however the Raiders jumped on the scoreboard with less than ten minute remaining in the half to turn the momentum back on them.
The first goal came at the 8:47 mark, when Jaylyn Chandler ripped a shot from about 40 yards out, sailing it over Howard goalkeeper, Jasmine McConnell's head, and into the right corner of the net for the games first goal.
"I was amazed," said Raider defender Sofia Harrison. "I honestly didn't think that shot would go in, so I'm really proud of Jaylyn for making that and it gave us more of a cushion and motivation to play harder."
Then, with thirty seconds left in the first half, Atholton tacked on another. Kate Johnson played a ball over to Victoria Huxtable, who used her speed to beat her girl, then placed her shot past McConnell for the Raiders second score.
"I think our first 10-15 minutes we didn't play up to potential, so once we scored (the first) goal, we realized we needed to kick it up a notch," Stoutenborough said. "It wasn't going to be an easy game. I thought we needed to play a little bit better and after that goal we did. We took control and we played the way we've been practicing."
The second half, again, was evenly matched, but the Lions couldn't capitalize on their chances. Bridget Dunnigan and Grace Regal had a few good looks, but sailed their shots just over the cross bar on a few occasions.
Howard totaled 13 shots on net, while Atholton keeper, Devon Bodziony finished the game with 10 saves in the shutout.
"I think we realized at halftime that we put ourselves in a pretty big hole," Boule said. "I think the intensity and the drive was there but again, the finishing was not, so I thought we played pretty similarly first half and second half."
The Raiders added one more with four minutes left in the contest. After Atholton was given a free kick about a few yards outside the box, Emma Johnson squared up and nailed a dagger over the Howard wall and in the left corner of the net, solidifying the 3-0 out come.
"We said that before the game, we said, "this is a statement game for us," a lot of the county coaches thought we could be a top county team, and we needed to come out tonight and prove it," said Stoutenborough. "And I thought that's what we did."
Around the league
Glenelg Country 2, Garrison Forest 0
Goals: GC – Boemmel, Netus
Assists: GC – Young
Saves: GC – Ahearn 7