By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Manchester Lady Dutch Girls Soccer team traveled to Blissfield High School on Monday, Apr. 9 to take on the Royals in their first game of the season after having their first two canceled due to weather, emerging with a 6-1 victory.
Lady Dutch Head Coach Travis Baker, who also coaches the Boys Varsity team and is in his first year of coaching the Girls program, was looking for a focus from his new team on knowing their responsibilities and roles in a new formation than they’ve run the past two years with former head coach Sam Seblinski.
Opportunities were available for both teams early on and throughout the first half.
Royals’ freshman forward Kara Stutzman had the first good look for either side five minutes in as she was fouled on a breakaway that led to a free kick right outside the box. Lady Dutch sophomore goalkeeper Megan Mann turned away the shot.
The Royals struck first with 26:55 remaining in the first half, sophomore forward Isabelle Brown knocked in a rebound to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Lady Dutch junior captain and midfielder Rayna Edwards tied up the game with 22:31 in the first half after receiving a pass on a switch just outside the 18-yard box. With no defender applying immediate pressure she lifted a shot that rode the back of the net in with the goalkeeper having no chance.
Early giveaways in the back forced Mann to make a few more key saves coming out of her box including a penalty kick save at the 20:40 mark after the defense had to take down Brown on a breakaway.
The Lady Dutch had many chances before hitting pay dirt again, junior Avery Collins and Edwards were able to link up multiple times but weren’t able to get a good shot on net.
With 4:34 remaining a crossed ball found Lady Dutch freshman Mikayla Sayer unmarked in front of the net and again a lifted shot that hit the back of the net as it was coming down resulted in the Lady Dutch taking the lead. They wouldn’t trail again.
With 19 seconds remaining in the half, Liz Mrocko knocked in a rebound to give the Lady Dutch a 3-1 halftime lead.
After halftime goals from Edwards, sophomore Rylee Spitler, and sophomore midfielder Natalie Bargardi came in the last 30 minutes of the half as the Lady Dutch were able to dictate the pace of play after taking the 3-1 lead before the half.
“We started the game very hurried and caused most of our issues by trying to play too quickly and rushed,” said Baker of the slow start. “Once we calmed down we were much better. At halftime we just talked about being relaxed on the ball and picking our heads up to pick out our passes. The surface was lumpy and we needed to make sure to play our passes with more pace and attack the ball.”