With the score tied 0-0 in Millersburg on August 30, the West Holmes Lady Knights soccer team and John Glenn were locked in a stalemate with both teams scrapping for scoring chances.
Then the Lady Knights dialed up the pressure, played five minutes of inspirational soccer and broke through with a pretty goal from sophomore Kerri Wagner to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
With Mr. Momentum on their side the Lady Knights then dominated the first ten minutes of the second half, scoring two goals on a Wagner penalty kick and a half-volley smash into the corner of the net from sophomore Taylor Dye to take a 3-0 lead.
In 15 game minutes, the Lady Knights took a heated contest and turned it into a convincing win.
The three goals were plenty as the Lady Knights held on for the clean sheet with a 3-0 victory, giving first-year coach Brooke Mowrer her first win at the helm of the program.
“Before the end of the first half I turned to my assistant coach Schuyler (Jones) and said ‘I really hope this momentum carries over’. At halftime we talked about carrying that momentum over to the second half and the girls went out and did exactly that,” said Mowrer.
The Lady Knights (1-1) were eager to get back on the pitch after their varsity game was cancelled last Saturday. After a week and a half break, they cranked out a strong effort against a good team in John Glenn and posted the shutout to boot.
“Lately, we’ve worked a lot on defense at practice,” said Mowrer about the shutout. “Especially in the defensive half of the field with man-marking.”
The extra work on the defensive end has paid off.
A key piece to the Lady Knights’ defense is veteran center back Katy Vaccariello, who is a senior leading a young defense. With four minutes to play in the game Vaccariello showed her blazing speed, running down a Lady Muskie who looked like she had some daylight to walk into the penalty area, but Vaccariello caught her and tackled the ball away to preserve the shutout.
“Overall it was rough because they have some tough, fast players up top,” said Vacariello about the Lady Knights’ defensive effort on Tuesday night. “We played clean though and didn’t commit any fouls in the back.”
Several times throughout the match Vacariello could be seen being vocal and telling defenders when and where to move. Freshman Maddie Dewitt played a mean left back and Taylor Vecchio, a junior playing her first big varsity minutes this season, turned in a good performance patrolling the right back spot.
“It feels good to help coach them through some situations out their on the field,” Vacariello said. “When they look to me for leadership I just want to help them through things and they played great tonight.”
While Vaccariello and her core of young defenders were busy shutting out the Lady Muskies, Wagner was putting the Lady Knights out in front on the offensive end.
Wagner’s first goal came with just 2:04 left to play in the first half on a sweet dime from senior Ali Gilt. Gilt ran down a ball in the corner and played a nice cross to the top of the 18-yard box that Wagner settled with her first touch and then ripped her second touch into the goal.
Not even four minutes later, but with the halftime in between, a Lady Muskies hand ball in the box earned West Holmes a penalty kick. Mowrer pointed her finger at Wagner to take the kick and she stepped to the spot and calmly placed one in the corner for the goal, just 1:28 into the second half. (video)
PK city and Kerri Wagner gets her second goal of the game, Lady Knights take 2-0 lead early in 2nd over JG. pic.twitter.com/xLhLuBZXPf
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) August 31, 2016
“I took the penalty kicks last year as a freshman, and it’s almost become a routine for me to take them,” said Wagner. “We are just glad that we got the shutout and coach her first win.”
Dye then capped the solid win with her goal when she punished a half-volley into the net off a pass from senior Riley Uhinck with 33 minutes to play. As soon as Dye hit the ball John Glenn’s keeper Molly Eubanks didn’t have a pray of saving it as it was simple hit too hard.
In goal for West Holmes Savannah Rogers was good, well she was actually great, making 11 saves and thwarting several more Lady Muskie attacks. Her twin sister Samantha Rogers also came off the bench and played some quality minutes in the midfield.
The Lady Knights out-shot John Glenn 12 to 11 and had five corner kicks to John Glenn’s three.
Up next the Lady Knights will start Ohio Cardinal Conference play when they face off against Lexington at home on Thursday, September 1.
“It feels great to get that first win because our girls have been working so hard,” said Mowrer. “It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Our seniors really wanted this win.”
The Lady Knights’ JV team took down John Glenn 4-1 before the varsity match on Tuesday. Abby Rohr led West Holmes with two goals, Liberty Arnold netted a goal and Charollete Brown had a tally for the Lady Knights.