With many new faces on a very young Tigers squad, filled largely by nine sophomores and four freshmen, both teams spent the first half feeling each other out at a methodical pace.
That all changed after the intermission when coaches changed their strategies.
The pace of the game quickened in the second half, but it still took nearly the entire game for either team to score as Sophomore Aubrey Barham’s marker with seven minutes on the clock proved to be the only goal the host Cougars needed in a 1-0 victory.
“It’s a double-edged sword. We beat Douglas and are 1-0 on the season, but we had two kids get hurt,” SSHS girls soccer coach Mike Faker said. “We lost two starters in the first 15 minutes to weird injuries. Hopefully they will be OK because we’re real thin right now.”
While the two injuries in the first half to Aubrey Williams and Hannah Poynter left Faker with very little room to negotiate substitutions, Spanish Springs still found a way to win in its regular-season opener.
Douglas dodged a couple bullets early on in the second half.
In the 49th minute, Barham whiffed on her rebound attempt to score from point-blank range when junior Kiley Diesner’s shot went through Douglas goalkeeper Corryne Millett’s hands.
Seven minutes later, the Purple and Silver were on the move again. Senior Alyssa Bertuleit sent a ball ahead to Diesner. Diesner couldn’t settle it for a good shot, but Millett couldn’t control it either. Bertuleit was there to collect the loose ball, but her shot was too high.
For the next 17 minutes, the two teams traded chances to score, but it wasn’t until the 73rd minute that someone found the back of the net.
Junior Karen Corral sent a long ball ahead to Barham, who took a shot on the run and into the right side of the net, giving Spanish Springs the lead for good.
“The first half we weren’t making very good runs up top. We had some opportunities, but didn’t get strikers in those positions,” Faker said. “I talked about it at halftime, and they changed it up. They started making some good runs. We had a bunch of kids open for awhile there. We just couldn’t get it to them.”
Douglas tried to put a scare in the hosts and notch the equalizer, but senior goalkeeper Baylie Krutsinger came away with saves and combined with sophomore Caitlyn Silva for 10 saves to earn the shutout for the Cougs.
Spanish Springs started the game with three players up top to increase the offensive pressure. Just over two minutes into the game, Kirsten Lealtad pushed a shot wide right.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the first half, but there were some close calls.
The Cougars had their chances, keeping their shots low and trying to beat the Douglas keeper with an awkward bounce. However, Millett was up to the task.
Halfway through the first half, Millett made a one-handed jumping save, pushing the ball over the crossbar on a Bertuleit shot.
Spanish Springs (1-0) is off until Tuesday when it heads to Wooster for a 3:30 p.m. clash.
Reed 4, Galena 1
Senior Katelyn Raatz knocked in a pair of first-half goals and the Raiders cruised to a 4-1 home win over Galena in their season debut Tuesday night.
“It’s the first time in a while that we got a win on Opening Day,” Reed girls soccer coach Jason Saville said. “I liked the fact we came out and scored an early goal on them. They came at us hard after that goal. We bent, but we didn’t break. We were able to get another one in before halftime. Last year, we were up 3-0 on this team and they came back. They play with a lot of guts and a lot of heart.”
Raatz scored four minutes into the game on an assist by Aubrie Ciesynski and four minutes before halftime thanks to an assist by Kennady Whitehead.
In the second half, it took less than a minute for Reed to forge ahead by a 3-0 score. With the ball rattling around in front of the goal, Whitehead pushed a shot into the back of the net less than a minute after the break. Taylor Wiebke was credited with the assist.
A defensive breakdown allowed the Grizzlies to avoid a shutout in the 45th minute. Reed goalkeeper Stefani Pehle waited too long to come off her line to try to break up a Grizzlies run. It opened the net for an easy goal, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Still, that didn’t deter the Blue and Gold. Wiebke intercepted a pass and took it herself down the right side of the field, burying a shot inside the far post for a 4-1 score with 29:38 on the clock.
“I just liked the fact that every player who stepped on to the pitch tonight did their job,” Saville said. “In years past, We’ve had players try to do too much because maybe the talent wasn’t around them. But now we have players that if they just do their jobs, we’re going to be successful. Everybody tonight did their job.”
Reed (1-0) will get its crack at Douglas when it makes the trek down to Minden Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.