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Girls soccer: Win city championship

Braves Win City Championship

team pic The Braves loaded and headed to Mapfre Stadium ready to dim the Stars. Yes, folks it was City Championship night and the Columbus Crew were the hosts.  Saved and not heading to Austin, Texas the Crew were gracious host.  The pre match excitement was thick causing nervous shivers among players and coaches.

The Braves City Championship squad started with Salma Kebe in the nets. Defenders Amelia Morris, Annabelle O’Neal, Noemi Cuarente and Lily Hoyt would excel in closing down Centennial forays.  The battle for the championship rested with winning the midfield, a task assigned to Ellis Scanlon-Kimura, Ella Norris, Summer Dush and Nezzie O’Malley.  Captains Lily Mathis and Olivia Mullins needed to score goals. 

The Braves designated home team enjoyed the Crew locker room. 

Tonight’s match was a rematch, earlier in the season the Braves had vanquished the Centennial Stars 1-0.  Tonight even more was at stake. The Stars had been eliminated Saturday from the Central District Tournament and tonight was the Stars last match.  They did not want the 2019 season ending with a loss.  The tempo of the match certainly demonstrated how much each squad wanted the gold ring.

The stadium field was considerable larger than any used for the previous 15 matches.  The dimensions of plays had to be adjusted to make sure the corners, free kicks, throw in were still effective. Your beloved Blue Footies arrived in shape and while some huffing and puffing occurred, no Blue Footie went down with leg cramps.  Feet were flying and all the extra space was well utilized with long through balls up the touch lines, large balls over the top, Selma’s booming punts and speedy runs against the Stars’ back line.  It was marvelous to see, standing out were the rapid attacks generated by Lily Mathys, Olivia Mullins and Elise Peters.  Matching them stride for stride were the hard working 7 and 11’s: Nezzie O’Malley, Summer Dush, Edee Malley, Maria Brooke, Roselyn Napolitano and Elizabeth Martin.

Core to success was the middle of the field and back line that didn’t bend often and never broke. Ellis Scanlon-Kimura and Ella Norris played 80 percent of the game as the Braves’ 6 and 8.  They came close to an easy 6 km jaunt, covering the middle from front to back and side to side.  The back four never earned a break.  Key was the spacing utilized that kept the Stars favorite attacking style in check.  Anywhere the ball went Annabelle O’Neal, Lily Hoyt, Amelia Morris and Noemi Cuarente were sure to be found.  Many attacks ended with long ball blasted back to the Braves attack.

The first forty minutes ended with good attacking style by the Braves but no clear advantage or score. The half time instructions were limited to watching the weak side over load.  Jam the middle and step to any attacker in possession.  Use our crosses but get more attackers in the box and finish the opportunities presented.

The Stars added an extra attacker that gave them some solid pressure.  Twenty minutes were burnt up when it looked like disaster had struck.  A Star in and off-side position finished a cross.  The ball was in the net, and all blue hearts sunk until the side line referee was spotted waving his flag.  Off sides, no goal and jubilation was heard from all Whetstone faithful with boos from the folks in red.

That scare lit a fire under the Braves.  All the wind went from the Stars sails and it blew strong in the Braves favor.  A quick counter attack up the left side saw Summer Dush battle her way to the end line.  Summer spotted Elise Peters rushing in on a nice angle and delivered the ball.  Elise still sporting her hat trick earned out West, rapped in a question for Stars Keeper Sarah Cliffton.  Sarah had no answer and Elise provided the game winner.

Whetstone 1 - Centennial 0

The next 12 minutes were nail biting time. The Stars earned 3 corner kicks and a free kick but all the effort spent on the practice pitch paid dividends that would make a Wall Street trader proud.  No fuss and no muss, the Braves rode the game out earning a City Championship. 

All that left for the night was celebration, a big trophy presentation and Elise Peters earning a $1000 scholarship as game MVP.  Ellis Scanlon-Kimura earned the team belt.  A happy crew finally stopped celebrating and moseyed towards the bus. 

Stat lovers: 9 shots on goal, 6 corner kicks earned, 6 fouls given, 7 keeper saves with one goal scored and none yielded.   Seasons total goals scored 49 and climbing backed by 7 shutouts.  Record is 9-4-3. 

Tomorrow October 16 the Braves will not rest but travel a Hard Road and play Worthington Kilbourne in game one of the District Tournament.  All District matches start 7 pm so come early and grab a good seat.  Its win or go home, the Braves plan on continuing the journey. Come cheer and be amazed.

Harry Head

Your Sports Reporter Admiring the Gold Ring