A goalkeeper coming up with a few key saves can make all the difference in the world in a soccer match.
That much was evident Wednesday evening at the James Jerome Sports Complex as a pair of Greater Sudbury Soccer Club (GSSC) all-girls teams went toe to toe.
GSSC Impact U14 keeper Megan Smith held the fort through a tough opening half, making three or four big stops and allowing her teammates to settle down and find their groove.
Asserting themselves offensively from about the 15th minute of the second half on, the U14 girls were rewarded when Victoria Clark found just enough room between the goalie and the post, converting on what looked like a fairly innocent play coming off the right flank.
That goal proved to be the difference as the U14 Impact girls blanked the U15 Impact ladies 1-0 in local rep soccer action. "We had lots of chances," noted Brittany Tate from the U15 squad. "Their team played really well — their goalie was saving them all."
Early on, a victory for coach Dennis Hannah and company seemed very much in jeopardy. In the 18th minute, Tiffany Hodgins broke in alone but Smith challenged aggressively, leaving the attacker little room to shoot.
Just five minutes later, Danika Lefrançois, the key offensive threat for the U15 side, enjoyed her first of a handful of chances, drilling a shot that Smith bounced up and off the football crossbar.
With time winding down in the opening half, Lefrançois made a lovely one on one move, creating a small opening only to strike the ball just above the top of the net. The Macdonald-Cartier Grade 9 student had two more chances early in the second half, sending a direct kick from 22 yards out just wide right of both Smith and the net.
The missed opportunities proved costly midway through the second half as Clark worked free from the right, making no mistake from in tight. That goal seemed to spark the U14 crew, which narrowly missed increasing their lead to a pair of goals as Sierra Crossthwaithe was sent in alone but could not find open net.
Play through the midfield on both sides was strong for much of the evening, with Chelsea Sargeant and defender Alexie Legault excelling, in particular, for the winners, while Maddy Poulin and Hayley Wasilyw were always around the ball for coach Jeff McNeil and company.
Both of these teams represent new entries to the GSSC ranks, as Smith noted after the game. "We just came together this year," she said. "A few of us have been playing together. I thought we played pretty well tonight, and we're getting better."
While Tate played a couple of years of competitive soccer a few years back, this current crew assembled a number of girls who have known each other through their time in Sudburnia soccer, looking to challenge themselves just a little more this summer.
"We seem to be working on better passing a lot, passing quicker, getting to the ball quicker and lots of corner kicks," said Tate. "And lots of conditioning." The latter certainly came into play with another day of stifling heat as referee Eric Caetano opted to break the opening half into quarters, allowing for greater hydration for the players during the early evening encounter.
GSSC action continues on most weeknights, with teams ranging from U8 through to U15 taking part on a local level. Additionally, five of the GSSC Impact "A" teams are also playing either CSL (Central Soccer League) or CGSL (Central Girls Soccer League) this year.
- Posted by Jenny Jelen