Sherando, Handley girls’ soccer teams battle to 1-1 tie
STEPHENS CITY — A team doesn’t give up only nine goals in 10 games without getting strong contributions from everyone on the field.
But in those moments when the opposition does break through for a scoring opportunity, it helps when the team’s defensive backbone is sturdy enough and flexible enough to be ready for whatever comes her way.
Handley junior goalkeeper Ellie Volinsky made nine saves — including one on a close-range blast with three minutes left in regulation and another in overtime on a volleyed shot from just in front of the goal — to help the Judges emerge with a 1-1 Northwestern District tie with Sherando Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Ellie was huge,” Handley coach John Lynch said. “She was aggressive, she was coming off the line, she did a lot of good stuff for us [Monday]. Without her, things could be a little bit different.”
Through the first 65 minutes, Volinsky had made six saves, but it looked as if the one shot that Sherando (4-3-2, 1-2-1 Northwestern) had slipped by her would be enough. (Tori Dean scored from 12 yards out off an Audra Sites assist in the 32nd minute of the first half.) The Judges (5-2-3, 1-0-3 Northwestern) had generated just four shots at that juncture, and none in the second half.
But in the 67th minute, Handley sophomore Ruthie Rosenfeld jumped on a ball played into the box and fired the ball off the inside of the right near post to make it 1-1 in the 67th minute.
Sherando coach Rob Kilmer could only run his hands down the back of his head as he watched the ball go in, realizing that a game that the Warriors had controlled for the most part was back to being anyone’s contest.
“It just takes one lapse,” Kilmer said. “What’s probably going to end up winning this district [is a team] making one mistake that another team takes advantage of.”
The goal was made possible by the Judges’ improved play over the course of the game, and it appeared to boost them even more. But it was Sherando that would finish with the best opportunities.
With three minutes left to play, Volinsky came off her line and out of the goal box as a Sherando player prepared to shoot. Volinsky didn’t give herself much time to adjust to the ensuing blast as a result, but she deflected the ball up and over her head, where it hit the crossbar.
Volinsky then had to scramble back to recover the ball. She took a shot to the body in doing so, but she also saved Handley’s chances of staying in the game.
“I thought [my deflection] was going over the bar,” Volinsky said. “I looked back, saw it hit the crossbar, and then out of nowhere I just got trucked. So I don’t know how I held on to it, but I did.”
Volinsky said those moments are just about doing everything in your power to not allow a goal, and she did that again in the first five-minute overtime.
Sherando senior Briana Rossi lofted a shot from the right side of the penalty box that went off the crossbar and bounced to the left to Warriors’ freshman Megan Triplett near the top of the goalbox.
Triplett let the ball bounce off her and descend, and she volleyed the ball toward goal — but it went right at Volinsky, who had shuffled quickly across the goal mouth and did her best to close the space that Triplett had to shoot.
“It worked, I guess,” said Volinsky of her movement.
Handley would not create a dangerous scoring opportunity in the extra session, but Lynch was pleased to see how well his players adjusted to playing some different roles Monday. Handley was without three starters because of some minor injuries and a DECA trip.
“Some people who typically don’t get as much playing time gave us some good minutes,” Lynch said. “Some people played some different positions.
“I thought Krystal Rosario [usually a forward] playing in the defensive center mid and Ruthie Rosenfeld [usually a midfielder] going up and being a forward was a nice change for us. We’ve got a lot of players who can do a lot of different things and it gave us an opportunity to basically steal a win from them. We responded in the second half and battled.”
The Warriors finished with a 13-8 shot advantage, and they were left thinking they could have put more of those shots away.
“I loved our relentless attack, and we were definitely more composed than we were than in [our last] game against Millbrook,” Kilmer said. “We just didn’t finish our chances.”
Dean said Volinsky did well to play a role in that.
“I definitely think we could have won,” she said. “We wanted it, and it showed. But their goalie made some pretty good saves.”
Akira Irving finished with six saves for the Warriors.
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1