MORGANTOWN – Emily Monti admitted she was fooled on Saturday during a high school girls’ soccer game.
The University High School goalkeeper thought Oak Glen’s Kami Ward was going to kick the ball to Monti’s left during a second-half penalty kick. Instead, Ward went right.
Monti went into the splits and managed to push away the shot with her right foot.
That right foot proved to be pivotal as Monti and the Hawks (4-4-3) held on to tie the visiting Bears 0-0.
“I wasn’t sure what side she was going to go,” Monti, who finished with seven saves in the contest, said. “I was gonna try to see what side she was leaning to. I was leaning to the left, but she kicked it right, so I put my foot out.”
That shot by Ward was as close as either team came to scoring as the Bears had 11 shots and the Hawks finished with just two in the contest.
“That’s the ongoing theme with us,” Oak Glen coach Bill Watts said. “We’re still pretty young and I think we started three freshmen today and we have a couple of girls that are new to soccer starting on the field as well. So, we have five new players playing soccer and we’re still trying to find that rhythm offensively.”
UHS knew that as well as the Hawks double-teamed Ward, one of the top scorers in the state, all game.
Graham Peace, the UHS head coach, said he used junior Montana Johannsen and sophomore Keny Huckaby to shadow Ward all game along with one other defender.
“(Ward) is fantastic,” Peace said of the Oak Hill player who was averaging over 3.5 goals per game so far this season. “We did manage to shut her down, so I’m pleased and what a phenomenal save by Emily on the penalty.”
The tie helps the Hawks inch closer to a berth in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament, but UHS still has work to do as it hosts Keyser at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
It was a tie that Peace said was more of a win for a young Hawks team that is trying to build momentum.
“I think it was a very good tie for us,” Peace said. “I think we built off of some of the things that we talked about after the Morgantown game – which was going hard to balls, moving the ball better and being more cognizant of where players are on the field, and I think we did that.”
The Hawks did have a couple of good scoring chances off corner kicks as both Gracie Oleksa and Huckaby placed balls into the Oak Hill box, but the Hawks were unable to capitalize.
In the end, it was the UHS defense that stood tall.
“We knew Wad was going to come and pressure us,” Monti said. “So, we put two on her every single time.”
Peace said he is happy with the improvement of Monti in goal after some early struggles in her career.
“She has been solid,” Peace said. “She has improved every game and she’s kept us in games, and she’s been absolutely superb.”
BY ERIC HERTER