MORGANTOWN — It is said that soccer is the cruelest game. A team can dominate an entire match but fail to score on multiple chances, only to lose on a fluky bounce. Another club finds a way to neutralize a superior opponent on grit and desire, only to go down to defeat from an ill-timed, ill-placed foul.
Those kinds of results are just a fundamental part of the game, but that doesn’t make it any easier when you fall victim to those fates. Last night at home, Trinity hosted a very skilled Linsly team, gave everything they had to give, and gave the Cadets everything they could handle, but ultimately came up just short, bowing in an exciting match, 2-1.
Deep and talented, Linsly (7-0-2) controlled the ball for large stretches but, unlike many teams that continuously switch fields and play back to their defense to reset, the Cadets continuously played forward, looking to break through the Warriors’ back wall. However, Trinity (3-2-1) coach Dan Lehmann’s strategy was as simple as it was effective.
“We knew they’d have strong ball skills,” he explained, “so we tried to pressure the ball, mark responsibly, overlap our defense as much as possible, get clears, and then counter over the top.”
And so the cat-and-mouse game played out – the Cadets cutting the field in half or two-thirds at times, while the home team absorbed the attacks and looked to break out in quick transition with their speedy forwards. The Cadets nearly drew first blood in the ninth minute, but Oscar Sundell’s shot clanged of the crossbar, bounced straight down, and was cleared. After more offensive pressure, Linsly’s Francisco Camps broke the ice in the 23rd minute when the junior forward deftly gathered in a long free kick outside the 18, dribbled between a trio of Warrior defenders, drew senior Trinity keeper Ben Lohmann – who had bravely charged off his line to smother three other potential shots previously – out, then calmly dribbled further right and deposited his shot into the open net.
Undeterred, the Warriors continued to fight and win their share of 50-50 balls, and their stellar defensive effort finally resulted in a quick turnover and a 2-on-1 against a lone defender and Cadet keeper Andrew Skadra in the 32nd minute. A nice cross gave Trinity two cracks at the goal, but Skadra slid quickly to his left to snuff both. However, the dangerous chance earned a corner, then another, and while Trinity hadn’t done much with their set piece opportunities, their second was an absolute masterpiece.
Junior Brock Shuba served a lovely floating ball toward the back post directly onto lanky, lengthy senior Carter Hartsock, who rose above a scrum and powerfully headed it in to knot the score, 1-1.
After the break, the game play changed little, although Linsly began to accumulate higher quality chances, all of which were turned away by Lohmann. Finally, in the 60th minute, a corner kick resulted in an unlucky hand ball in the box, and the resulting penalty kick was confidently rolled onto the open right side (after Lohmann’s incorrect but necessary guess) by junior forward Agustin Fonseca.
Down 2-1, Trinity received a big break when a Cadet defender needlessly pulled down a Trinity forward – the keeper already had the ball – earning his second yellow card and an ejection with 17 minutes to play. But the depleted Warriors couldn’t produce enough turnovers, and the Cadets worked the ball, the field, and the clock to perfection to close out the match and preserve the victory.
“Yeah, we had the same corner kick play set up,” Coach Lohmann smiled, “and we almost connected, but just didn’t quite execute well enough. They’re a very skilled team, they handled balls in the air very cleanly and settled with control in tight spaces very well. We just couldn’t break them out of their possession game as much as we hoped.
“But I’m so proud of the effort and character our team displayed tonight,” he continued. “We have a lot of first-time soccer players, so for us to schedule a tough team like Linsly, battle from behind with a really nice goal to tie, then lose by just one on an unlucky handball and PK? Hey, we can live with that.”
The Warriors head to the road to face Weir on Thursday.
UHS 8 John Marshall 0
MOUNDSVILLE — Avery Alexander scored a pair of goals, as the Hawks won convincingly against John Marshall.
Auriana Kiania got the scoring started with a shot from the top of the box just nine minutes into the match. Alexander then scored her pair, followed by goals from Mairin Gillispie, Anna McBee, and Maddie Fritsch, to give the Hawks (4-3-1) a 6-0 halftime lead.
Seniors Addison Spain and Chloe Downs finished the scoring, while Fritsch, Abby Rogers, Jessica Kinder and Kenya Huckaby added assists.
Kiauna Gross made three saves to register the first shutout of her career.