As it turned out, the tone was set in the early moments of Westlake’s battle with arch rival Magnificat.
Late in the first minute of Saturday’s girls soccer matchup, Blue Streak forward Shannon Fulton ripped a shot that was headed for the upper part of the goal. Westlake keeper Alexis Carpenter, however, made a leaping save, deflecting the ball off the crossbar.
That was one of the few scoring opportunities Magnificat would have the entire game. The Demons would eventually break a scoreless tie just before halftime, then broke things open in the second for a 3-0 win over the Streaks at sun-drenched Reed Field.
“The girls played with a lot of energy today,” said Demons head coach Scott Jones, whose team raised its record to 4-1-2 on the season. “As long as we can keep ourselves focused and play with that kind of energy, we have a chance with anybody.
“I’m sure we’ll see them again, because they’re a really good team,” Jones said of Magnificat. “They’re very well coached, and very dangerous with a lot of speed.”
That speed looked to be making a difference early on, but the Westlake defense was up to the task. The Blue Streaks had three corners in the first half but were turned away, and Carpenter denied midfielder Jaycie Brown’s one-on-one opportunity in the 34th minute with a kick save.
Just five minutes later, Blue Streak keeper Amanda Copfer made a great save as she, the ball and Westlake’s Sarah Stroh met at the same time. Stroh’s shot hit Copfer low and ricocheted out of the box.
But the Demons would break the scoreless tie with 1:38 left in the half. That’s when Lauren Wichman took a long pass from Caleigh O’Brien and zipped the ball past Copfer for a 1-0 Westlake advanatge.
In the second half, it didn’t take long for the Demons to build on their lead.
In the 42nd minute, sophomore Megan Konrad moved the ball up field, moved past a defender and got off a shot with her left foot from about 10 yards out. The ball found the back of the net, and it was 2-0, Demons, with 38:35 still to play.
Magnificat Sarah Lawrence tried to answer with a long shot in the 44th minute, but it sailed over the crossbar. She fired another salvo in the 49th minute, but Carpenter dove to her left for the save.
At that point, the game became a bit more physical, with Westlake getting a pair of yellow cards in the half. Konrad and Copfer collided in the crease, but no call was made. And just prior to that, Stroh left the game and was taken to the hospital with what was thought to be a dislocated elbow.
Westlake, however, kept its poise and tacked on another goal with 14:36 remaining as Konrad scored from 10 yards out off an assist from Amanda Finucan. Carpenter made another diving save in the 71st minute, the final threat of the afternoon from the Streaks.
“On the day, we were certainly Westlake’s best ally and our own worst enemy,” said Magnificat head coach John Fenix, whose team fell to 5-3-2.
“At one stage, we made them look like Manchester United,” Fenix said. “We didn’t shut down their long ball. But most disappointing of all was our work rate wasn’t there, and that’s a hard thing for a coach to swallow.
“Your team might not be a skilled team, or your team may not be a good team overall. But when the work rate isn’t there, it’s not a good thing,” Fenix said.
“We certainly had our opportunities. We’ve been having difficulty breaking down tougher defenses all year, and and this was a pretty tough defense. Maybe early on had we finished on one or two of those, it may have been a different game,” he added.
Jones felt his defense mad a difference, as well as the play of Konrad and senior midfielder Serena Tabbaa, who was battling through an illness.
“We had Sarah go down in the second half, and Serena left halfway through school yesterday and couldn’t get through practice,” Jones said. “She was feeling really, really bad, but even Serena at half is still one of the better, if not the nest, players out there.
“All the girls, really, did a great job. Megan finished those goals for us in the second half, and Alexis is really solid. She just doesn’t make mistakes. When you have a goalie that can keep you in any game, you’ve got a chance to win,” he added.
Westlake returns to action Monday night when they face longtime rival Bay at Memorial Stadium. Magnificat travels to Berea that day as well.