By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dexter Dreadnaughts Girls soccer team, 9-1-3 (7-0-2), defeated their rival and took sole possession of first place in the SEC White when they beat the Chelsea Bulldogs, 5-6 (5-3) on May 3, 1-0.
The difference maker was scored on a set piece, with Dreadnaught freshman Briana Rodriguez scoring the goal.
In the first half, possession was split with both sides getting opportunities.
The Dreadnaughts had a couple of free kicks in the first half with junior Kylie Cabana offering service into the box from anywhere over midfield.
The Bulldogs had a corner in the early stages of the first half and started to earn more possession ten minutes into the game.
The bulk of the first half saw both teams chain together a few passes but the backlines of the Bulldogs and Dreadnaughts were solid throughout the night.
With 8:00 left, Bulldog senior Sam Pagliarini had a shot from outside the box that curled just wide and over the course of the next few minutes both sides had long through balls that were just out of reach of the runners.
The Bulldogs cleared a Dreadnaught cross with 4:00 left that led to a transition chance, senior Hannah Wyatt received a pass from sophomore Jessica Emmert, who got it back to Emmert, who got a shot off with Dreadnaught junior goalkeeper Kaila Simpson diving to make the save and send the game to halftime with the score even at zero.
At halftime, Dreadnaught head coach Jamie Lewis told The Sun Times they made some changes to counter the successful play of Emmert, Bulldog freshman Breigha Vowles, and sophomore Andrea Kowalski.
“We made some changes in the second half to counter that,” said Lewis. “We moved our forwards a little higher to create more space and it worked a little bit.”
In the second half, the Dreadnaughts notched the only goal of the game on a set piece with 38:05 on the clock. Dreadnaught sophomore Carley Curry’s corner kick found freshman Briana Rodriguez for the first header of her high school career.
“Carley had a beautiful cross,” said Rodriguez on the goal. “The girl marking me was a little behind me and I stepped in front of her.”
Rodriguez wasn’t expecting to make varsity this season, but with a team replacing nine seniors, she has found a role. She told The Sun Times the team is continuing to build chemistry and learning how to play together.
“It felt really good,” said Rodriguez on her goal. “I was jumping up and down, I was so excited. This is definitely my top goal; I’ve never scored a header.”
After that goal, the Dreadnaughts carried that momentum, gaining more possession and pressing higher.
With 24:40 the Dreadnaughts had a chance to seal the game on a poor clearance from the Bulldogs, but the shot went over the crossbar.
Halfway through the second half, the Bulldogs began to possess from the back, they got some looks over the last twenty minutes that included a corner and a few played passes that were just out of reach.
With 8:45 the Bulldogs had a counterattack that had Emmert cross a ball to Kowalski forcing Simpson to make a diving save.
Three more chances couldn’t find the back of the net and the Dreadnaughts claimed sole possession of first place in the SEC White with the win.
“We just need to relax,” said Lewis after the game. “The first ten minutes were hectic, everyone wanted to get the ball off of their foot and take one touch. They didn’t want to make a mistake. Once they relaxed, they were fantastic. (I was) really happy for the kids, seeing their smiles and how fired up they made me happy.”
“We just didn’t finish,” said Bulldog head coach Jason Murphy on the game. “(We need to) be stronger in the box. That’s how they scored and that’s what we’ve worked on so, we got to be better at that.”
“(We just have to) make sure we stay confident,” added Murphy. “Clean up the offensive third when we get up there. We need to test the keeper, we had some dangerous corners, we just need to test the keeper. The confidence is there, sucks to lose this game, but we’ll come back.”
The Bulldogs and Dreadnaughts will meet again next week in Chelsea.