The Hiland Lady Hawks wobbled a bit to open the 2012 soccer season, then righted the ship. They fell behind again, only to answer immediately. Then they just plain ran out of gas in dropping a 4-2 game to Loudonville to kick off the new season.
Hiland hosted Loudonville on Tuesday, August 21 at Hiland High School, and youth and inexperience reared its head and led to several goals.
Loudonville took a 1-0 lead into the half, but Joanna Hershberger evened things up with a big shot from near the 18 just 90 seconds into the second half to ignite the team and the home crowd.
But in the 50th minute, the Redbirds struck on a corner kick to take a lead, which lasted all of 40 seconds, when Julee Zinck found Hershberger in the middle of the field again, and she produced again nailing a shot into the lower left corner to tie things up.
But a mistake by Hiland keeper McKenzie Miller, who came out too far on a lofted shot from deep, led to a 3-2 deficit.
“That was inexperience on McKenzie’s part,” said Wengerd. “But there were several other plays that she made in which she came out and forced them to take shots quicker than they wanted to and they missed. That decision making will get better as the season progresses.”
Several minutes after that, the Hawks, who were pushing up late to try to even the score again, got beat defensively, which led to an easy goal and the 4-2 deficit.
Things almost got interesting with 10 minutes to play when Makenzie Gingerich’s shot from the right side slid just outside the left post, but Hiland could muster nary a threat after that in falling to defeat.
“I don’t think the score really reflects how we played,” said new head coach Jesse Wengerd. “This was probably the best I’ve seen us play yet, especially during the 15 minutes early in the second half when we were possessing the ball down in their box and putting all kinds of pressure on them. We were getting shots and getting looks, and if we could have played that way the whole game it would have been a different story.”
Wengerd said that only experience will make that happen, as a host of younger players with little varsity action under their belts have to go through a learning curve, and thus take some bumps and bruises along the way.
“These girls don’t have enough time at the varsity level to understand yet what it takes to compete at this level,” said Wengerd. “They have these little bright, flashing moments when you realize what they are capable of doing, but it hasn’t come with any consistency yet.”
Despite the loss, Wengerd said he saw things he liked, and said it wasn’t a bad effort by his squad. The statistics, other than the final score, were fairly even for the game. Loudonville produced nine shots on goal as compared to Hiland’s seven, each keeper had two saves and Loudonville led in corners 4-3.
Wengerd said it was nice to see the Lady Hawks come back on two separate occasions to knot the score, and with Hershberger scoring twice, he noted that the big, strong junior midfielder will be a huge part of the offense this season.
Wengerd did say that the team fell in a hole early because they didn’t come out with any fire for the first 10 minutes of play, something he said may be attributed to the team’s youth.