October 21, 2009
Perfect Eagles ending turning back Rockets
McGRAW — The McGraw Central girls’ soccer team closed out an impressive regular season Tuesday afternoon, but it didn’t come easy.
Having already wrapped up their sixth straight Central Counties League championship, the host Eagles beat a tenacious DeRuyter squad 1-0 to finish unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in league play... and almost for the entire regular season.
Coach Dave Law’s club finished 12-0 in the league with 76 goals for and none against, and have allowed one goal while scoring 94 in their 16 contests overall heading into the Section 3 Class D tournament next week. Tuesday’s win was their 14th straight shutout.
In a non-league game, visiting Cincinnatus blanked Tyburn Academy 7-0.
McGraw 1, DeRuyter 0: While McGraw came in averaging almost seven goals per game in the league, the Rockets, now 6-4-1 in the league and 8-5-2 overall going into Thursday’s regular-season finale with visiting Brookfield, got 13 saves from junior goalkeeper Kayla Hampton while forcing Eagles junior keeper Hayley MacLean to stop four shots, All told, the hosts took 28 shots to six for DeRuyter.
“Look at the opportunities we had that didn’t go,” Law said, shaking his head but smiling at the same time, his team also with a 15-1 advantage in corner kicks. “Hampton was on her game for them, and their defense did a wonderful job of jumping in front of crosses that we made and stepping up quickly as we took our shots.”
Hampton tipped a number of shots just over the crossbar, including one by McGraw’s Kierra Mack with around one minute left on the last of her six shots in the game (including one that hit the left post with just under 15 minutes left in the game). The senior forward failing to score in a game for the first time this fall.
“I’m really happy, because we have so many girls banged up,” said DeRuyter coach Tom Springer, who had 14 players to start the game. “Carissa Clark (senior midfielder) has two taped ankles, and Amber Schlafer (senior midfielder-defender) has a bone chip on the top of her foot. Everyone came in ready to play, and did a nice job. Kayla played a fantastic game for us, and I’m glad she’s back next year.”
The only goal of the game came off the foot of McGraw senior striker Nicole Law, who put an over-the-head reverse shot off a corner kick by senior midfielder Kristen Guy over Hampton’s hands and under the crossbar from around 15 yards out 7:48 into the contest.
“I don’t even know what happened on that,” she said of her 25th goal this season and the 101st of her four-year career. “I was facing away from the goal and just kicked it; it went over the goalkeeper’s head and in. We don’t like giving up goals, and set a team goal for ourselves at the beginning of the year not to allow any.”
Given the strength of their defense, is it possible that once the Eagles score they might relax just a little, knowing the odds are that the game is already won?
“That could be,” Dave Law said. “We’ve talked about that. A lot of times our defense will stop the other team just past midfield and not allow them to get deep on us. Our outside fullbacks, Brogan Jones and Nicole Purcell, push in and stop the forwards. DeRuyter got in there a few times on us.
“But we’re a very strong team offensively, so strong in the middle with Nicole and Kristen,” he added of the team’s only four-year varsity players. “We work the ball down and fan out from there.”
“We don’t have that much confidence after just one goal,” Nicole Law said. “We’re not cocky or anything. We like to get a couple goals, then sit back. We like to be up for few before we can chill.”
The Rockets had their best offensive chances early in the second half, MacLean snagging a crossing pass from the right side 3:15 in and then making the save on a shot from 25 yards out off an indirect kick just over five minutes later.
“We had just that one little lapse, or else it would have been 0-0,” Springer said. “I’ll take it. I think we’re starting to peak at the right time. We’re 4-1-2 over our last seven games. With a couple more people healthy, we could go a ways in sectionals.”
McGraw’s seniors, the other six besides Nicole Law and Guy all three-year varsity players, were honored at halftime. The Eagles have gone 52-3-2 overall and 34-0-2 in the CCL the last three years and haven’t lost any home games, the only blot on that record a 1-1 tie with Madison in last fall’s regular-season finale.
With the sectional seeding meeting Sunday, the Eagles will be idle for at least a week before their post-season contest. In addition to the layoff, Dave Law is also concerned about how playing in a relatively weak league will affect his team.
“That’s our biggest fear,” he said, his team having finished as sectional Class D runner-up in each of his two seasons as head coach. “The girls came into the season sky-high, playing very well, but their intensity level is down in the middle now,” he said. “Now our job is to get it pushed back up.
“But we have four girls who are in double figures in goals, so we’re hard to defend. Who do you want to mark? We’ve always got someone else who can score.”
Cincinnatus 7, Tyburn Academy 0: Senior forward JaLynne Smith led the way with three goals and an assist, freshman midfielder Bailey Rutan scored twice and added an assist and sophomore goalkeeper Juanita Diaz made two saves in the shutout as the Red Lions improved to 7-6-1 overall with the win at Ultimate Goal. Senior forward Hannah Smith and eighth-grade midfielder Devin Blanchard scored once each for the winners, who took 27 shots to five for Tyburn.
Cincy, currently 6-4-1 in the CCL, closes out the regular season Thursday at league foe Stockbridge Valley.
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