Spartans gain momentum, but can't roll to win in opener
Issue date: 9/4/09 Section: Soccer
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"The older players returned fit, excited, and eager to leave a legacy behind them. We've also added some new players, like Devyn Lee, Deena Levey, Maeve Goede, and Ashley Debeljak that are able to contribute right away," said Coach Tiff Crooks.
The first half started off slowly, with both teams getting a feel for the game. Ashland held possession of the ball in the Spartans defensive zone for awhile, yet the Spartan defenders were able to prevent the Eagles from scoring. The Spartans came out using a 4:4:2 formation, with four defenders playing straight across in what is called a flat back four. Sophomore Laura Gabster, Fromwiller, sophomore Anna Selser, and freshman Goode started out the game in defense. A flat back four is an excellent way to provide defensive pressure and balance.
Of the change in formation, Crooks says, "I think we have the right pieces of the puzzle to play that effectively and it's the best fit for this particular group. Our goalkeepers are vocal and good with the ball at their feet and can be a key part of relieving pressure and starting the attack. And, we have great individual defenders that understand the tactical demands of the system. It's been a very positive change so far."
The Spartans gained more momentum as the first half progressed. After an Ashland player got a yellow card around the 13 minute mark, the Spartans capitalized on the opportunity. Freshman Ashley Debeljak had a beautiful run and heart breaking shot on goal, which hit off the crossbar. Freshman Devyn Lee tried to get a shot off the rebound but the Eagles' goalie gained possession. Then, with just three minutes left in the first half, junior Ana Arruda, last year's leading scorer, had a break and played a ball through the middle of the 18 - unfortunately, no one was able to finish. The first half ended, scoreless at 0-0.
The second half started off with Ashland coming out strong as Eagle Chelsea Hyatt scored from outside of the box. Ten minutes later, the Eagles scored again in another unlucky goal off of a free kick. At the 78-minute mark, their hard work paid off as Laura Gabster took a free kick and sent a beautiful ball towards the goal for an assist for senior Caroline Garber. The Spartans only needed one more goal to tie the game, but were unable to score. Despite the fact that the Spartans outshot Division II Ashland 11-3 and outplayed them for the majority of the game, the game ended in a 2-1 loss.
Crooks is enthusiastic and excited about the game, saying that "by playing teams like Ashland, we'll be better prepared for those UAA opponents." She goes on to say that she simply can't say enough "good things about this group and the potential they have. This is the most talented team I have had the privilege of working with at Case."