Although West Holmes clearly had control of the ball, the first half of the Saturday night, August 26, match against the Dover Tornadoes went scoreless at the West Holmes soccer field. That was, however, until sophomore midfielder Alex Starr and her team of Lady Knights turned those initial scoring chances into goals during the second half, leading West Holmes to a 3-0 victory on their home turf.
So what happened at halftime that helped turned the 0-0 tie at the break into a 3-0 victory? Only the wisdom of fourth-year coach Josh Wengerd, who gave his players the right kind of confidence to finish strong.
“At halftime, I told the girls to keep it up and keep shooting because we are going to break through. We had most of the possession the entire first half and it was just a matter of time before we were going to score,” Wengerd said.
Those encouraging words seemed to instill a confidence in the team, as the Lady Knights entered the second, and led with a balanced attack from Mallory Wahl, Abby Callahan and Starr, all of which smashed three goals home before time ran out.
So what seemed like a first half that included a lot of West Holmes scoring chances was, in fact, just that. Forwards Wahl and Callahan both spent a lot of time in West Holmes’ offensive third of the field, tiring out the Dover defense quickly. With just minutes left in the first, West Holmes had their best chance in scoring, as midfielder Nicole Strouse approached the net, but ultimately rung a shot off the post.
Wengerd also contributed some of the first half lack of scoring to the play of Dover goalkeeper Alisha Walker, who came up with a few big saves in the first half, as well as the second.
Dover’s goalkeeper “played the same way last year, and she is a very good goalkeeper and tough to beat,” Wengerd said.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Starr was able to beat Walker and get the Lady Knights on the scoreboard. The sophomore took a throw in from a teammate and beat her defender down the right side of the field, ultimately burying the first goal past Dover’s goalkeeper.
“I was excited to see Alex Starr score, because she has been working really hard and grown by leaps and bounds from the preseason until now,” Wengerd said about the game-changing play.
Just six minutes later, Callahan, another shining star of the Lady Knights program, took a loose ball in the opponent’s penalty area and snuck it past three defenders, while the Dover goalie laid off to the side after stopping an initial shot.
Wahl then crushed the hopes of Dover once and for all, as she netted a penalty kick at the 19:12 mark of the second half.
After almost 10 game minutes and three goals, the Lady Knights were well on their way to their second victory of the year, not to mention their second shutout. This was all thanks to both the strong offensive and defensive efforts of the team, as well as the skills of Courtney Cozak, fourth-year starter, sweeper.
Cozak and her defensive unit allowed just one Dover shot on goal and quickly transitioned the Dover attack back to West Holmes’ side of the field all night. Cozak is “very responsible and shoulders it well,” when it comes to playing her defensive role on the team, praised Wengerd.
As of this win, the Lady Knights are now 2-1 on the season, with wins out of conference against both longtime rivals, Dover and Triway.
The Lady Knights JV soccer team defeated Dover as well by a score of 2-0. Scoring for the Lady Knights was Kennedy Smith and Becca Brannon. Both goals came in the first six minutes and the Lady Knights were able to hold on the rest of the match. The junior varsity team now has a record of 1-1.