Blue Streaks strike early, prevail 2-0 over Demons
Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
In a battle of unbeatens, Magnificat drew first blood in Thursday night’s matchup with Westlake at Rocky River Stadium.
With both teams playing lock-down defense, it was the only goal the Blue Streaks would need.
Junior Natalie Coury took advantage of Anne Ubbing’s hustle play in the seventh minute to score to only goal of the night against the Demons’ staunch defense. The Blue Streaks added a penalty kick goal late in the second half to come away with a 2-0 decision and remain undefeated.
Magnificat, now 4-0, made it two big wins in as many nights. The Streaks earned a hard-fought 3-1 win at North Royalton Wednesday night before facing their longtime Westshore neighborhood rivals.
Westlake fell to 4-1, just missing on two big opportunities in the second half that may have made a difference. Instead, Alyssa Baumbick’s penalty kick with 11:46 left in regulation all but sealed the deal for the Streaks.
“That first goal seems like such a distant memory right now,” said Magnificat head coach John Fenix after the game.
“Westlake played a lot of long ball, which was difficult to deal with, especially on a field like this,” Fenix said. “Their defense was very tenacious, as it was last year, so we had problems breaking it down.
“I knew we had to get in the box as much as we could. As tough as their defenders are, it raises the possibility that there’s going to be a penalty. Fortunately, we were able to get one of those, although the penalty was on their keeper, I believe,” he added.
Magnificat’s first goal came when Ubbing took the ball near midfield and sped quickly up the Blue Streak sideline. With one converging defender to beat, she made a move into the box and made a crossing pass to Coury, who had snuck in behind the Westlake defense on the back side.
The ball quickly reached Coury, who fired a point-blank shot past Demon keeper Alexis Carpenter for the goal with 33:11 still to play in the first half.
“We had one senior, Shannon Kruger, who started tonight on defense and played significant minutes,” said Jones, who was without injured senior defender Maddie Sandhu.
“We usually play two seniors back there. Maddie is a three-year starter for us, but she rolled her ankle last week and will be out for a while. We had Taylor Salamone, a junior, step in and do a fine job for us in the back tonight.
“I thought our girls played hard,” Jones said. “Magnificat has a very good team. They beat Strongsville earlier this year and beat Bay, which is a great Division II team. They played pretty hard tonight.”
In the 54th minute, Westlake had the first of two scoring chances from close range.
Freshman Danielle Pelligrino took the ball, sped up the sideline and fired a pass forward to fellow freshman Maya Bauer. She maintained control of the ball against pressure and fired a cross into the goal crease.
Magnificat keeper Kaleigh Piscioneri could only watch with anticipation at the flury of activity directly in front of her. The ball was eventually sent out of bounds on the end line, resulting in a goal kick for the Blue Streaks.
The home team came back and had a shot go just wide in the 19th minute, then Westlake advanced again. The ball found its way to sophomore Rita Forbusch on the near right side. Her shot evaded Piscioneri, but skipped just outside the left post.
“It was 1-0, and we missed the post by about an inch down there,” Jones said. “And that was a really, really horrible penalty kick call. So it was a 1-0 game, the kids played hard and it was a good high school soccer game.
“It had to be pretty entertaining for the crowd we had here tonight,” he added.
Magnificat’s penalty kick came in the 69th minute when a Blue Streak collided with Carpenter during a one-one-one opportunity in the box. Carpenter, however, was the one called for the foul. After a brief timeout for an injury on the field, Baumbick lined up for the kick.
Baumbick, who scored on a PK in the Streaks’ season-opening win at Bay, zipped a bullet to the left of Carpenter and into the back of the net.
For the game, Magnificat had seven shots on goal to Westlake’s five, a testament to the tough defense played on both sides. Carpenter registered six saves, while Piscioneri was credited with three.
Fenix gave credit to both teams for a game well-played, and was proud of his team for getting through back-to-back games with a pair of wins.
“It was a very physical game,” Fenix said. “Credit Westlake. They are a tough side. They do the most with the talent they have, so they’re not an easy team to play. But for a few passes, this score could have been different.
“They played us physically tough. Coming off a game with North Royalton, which is also a physically tough team, I have to give credit to our players. Mentally and emotionally, you’re worn out after two very tight games.
“Also, we don’t have the deepest bench, so I give a lot of credit to the players who were out there last night and tonight,” he added.