Despite physically and statistically dominating the first half of action, the Swanton girls soccer team was forced to rely on the outstanding play of goalie Amber Torres and the rest of the defense to hold on to a tenuous one goal lead and defeat Springfield, 2-1, in a home non-league game at Krupitzer field on Thursday.
The Bulldog offense spent most of the first 40 minutes in the Blue Devils’ end of the field, peppering the keeper with 10 shots on goal to just one for Springfield. However, the Dogs had just two find the back of the net while the Devils’ lone shot slipped through for the score.
Swanton went immediately on the attack and scored early when Taylor Pelland drove down the right sideline and sent a crossing pass to Shae Hallowell just outside the goalie crease who drilled it past the Devils’ keeper, Erica Myers, for a 1-0 lead at the 33:47 mark.
The Dogs kept the pressure on but on one of the few visits by the Springfield offense into the Swanton end of the field, the Devils’ Courtney Nowaczyk found an opening to the left side of the Swanton goal and tied the score with 28:04 left in the first half.
Undeterred by the surprising score, the Bulldogs kept attacking the opponent’s net with more shots on goal and several shots that just missed the mark, with two banging off the goal post and one off the crossbar. “It made us more determined to get one,” said Swanton freshman Bridgett Harlett, commenting on the near misses.
Finally, almost 20 minutes after the tying goal, Harlett herself, put the Dogs back on top with a shot that caromed off the left goal post and crossed the goal line at a 45 degree angle with 9:26 to go until halftime.
Swanton’s control of the first half did not carry over into the second half as Springfield became much more aggressive on offense and carried the play to the Bulldog’s defense. “The frustration level was getting high in the second half. We weren’t getting the shots on goal we were the first half,” commented Swanton coach Jim Dickman. “But our defense held together so I’m very happy with the outcome.
Each team had five shots on goal in the last 40 minutes but did not score, giving Swanton a 2-1 victory. “It’s a big win for us,” said Dickman whose squad moved to 7-2 on the year. “Beating a D-I helps us with the state polls and it’ll help us as far as sectionals and districts (seeding) and promoting our kids.”
The Bulldogs also added a 5-1 win over Maumee on Saturday to move to 8-2 on the year.
With a 2-0 league record, Swanton will face Archbold on the road on Thursday in their next NWOAL action beginning at 5 p.m.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org