NWD Girls’ Soccer: Top-seeded Pioneers edge Wood, 1-0
WINCHESTER— The difference between the second- and fourth-place teams in the Northwestern District girls’ soccer regular season standings was only two points, but No. 4 James Wood had already played to a scoreless draw with No. 1 Millbrook heading into Saturday’s district semifinals.
In the third meeting between the two teams, the top-seeded Pioneers — playing on their home field — had to overcome the absence of top-scorer Brooke Borlie and inspired play by the Colonels to pull off a 1-0 victory to advance to the championship game against Sherando Tuesday.
“I thought going into the game that we were going to win,’ said Wood coach Jim Carden, whose team played the Pioneers to a scoreless draw on April 19. “But I’m the coach and all coaches expect that. But the important thing was that our players came into this game expecting to win, and they played that way. We just didn’t put it in the net.”
The two teams waged a spirited battle for midfield the entire game with neither side able to dominate the other. With Borlie suspended for one game, Millbrook moved Kortney Teike from the back line to center forward to replace the district’s top scorer.
Teike’s play, however, was hardly lackluster, and her tenacious play was a critical factor in the Pioneer win.
Both teams played even in the opening half. Wood (5-10-2) held a narrow 6-5 lead in shots attempted, but had three of their scoring opportunities fall victim to saves by Pioneer goalkeeper Caitlin Schrader.
“I thought that we had several good shot opportunities early in the game, but we just couldn’t get it in the net,” Carden said. “You have to make the most of your opportunities, and score goals. It’s all about scoring goals, and we just weren’t able to get one.”
Colonel keeper Emily Woods-Hulse equaled Schrader’s performance in the net, stopping four Millbrook shots on goal in the first half. The result was a scoreless first half with neither team truly satisfied with its performance on offense.
Heading into the second half, Millbrook (13-3-1) stepped up its offensive play, and slowly began to control midfield and threaten Wood’s goal.
“We really didn’t tell the girls to start pressing offensively,” Pioneer coach Carter Smith said. “We weren’t playing our game. We weren’t playing our fluid passing game at all. I thought we were too worried about being scored on.”
Millbrook’s added effort to get its game going paid off 10 minutes into the second half when Pioneer junior Holly Elko took a pass from Teike 15 yards from the Colonel goal and blasted it into the net. It took a terrific effort by Teike and Elko, though, to get it past the Wood defense, and Elko fell to the ground injured after her game-winning goal.
“I honestly don’t remember what happened,” Elko said. “Kortney passed me the ball and I just took it around the Wood defender and managed to get it in the corner. My body went one way and my leg went another and I felt a pop. I’m OK now, though.”
Elko’s goal, however, not only didn’t seal the victory, but inspired the Colonels to a near fanatical effort to tie the game. For the next 30 minutes, Schrader and her Millbrook teammates battled a Wood team determined to get the equalizer.
Wood took five shots on goal in the second half and all of the Colonels’ shots came after Elko’s goal, forcing Schrader to make three difficult saves.
“Both teams played really well out there,” Elko said. “James Wood really showed us what they’re made of, and how badly they wanted to win the game.”