By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Edgewood girls soccer coach Vince Peluso had seen it happen before. He did what he could to avoid it happening again. The Warriors still trailed Lakeside by two goals at the half Monday at Lakeside Stadium.
Unlike what Peluso had seen before, however, Edgewood battled back to forge a 3-3 tie with the Dragons.
Trailing, 3-1, at the half, the Warriors got a pair of second-half goals from Zhen-Zhen Eidens to knot it up.
In the 55th minute, an Edgewood midfielder poked a ball past the Lakeside defense and Eidens raced through to take possession then beat Lakeside keeper Kristin Keasling to get the Warriors (8-6-1) within a goal at 3-2.
Eidens sent a shot off the lower right post for the equalizer in the 57th.
“That was on our side,” Lakeside coach Ed Paneto said. “We lost a player for that first 20 minutes of the second half. Losing her, let them take advantage of us. And props to (Edgewood) for doing so. Give them credit for fighting back. You can’t take anything away from them. They are a good team.”
The teams battled to a draw the rest of the way.
“Give my girls credit,” Paneto said. “They wanted this game. They didn’t give up all the way to the end.”
“We played a lot harder in the second half,” Peluso said. “We changed pretty much everything at halftime. Everything flowed a little bit better.”
Kaytee Candela proved to be a thorn in the Warriors’ side early. She took a pass from Zoey Campbell about 12 yards out and to left of the penalty box. She sailed a shot across the front of the goal and over the head of Edgewood goalkeeper Jillian Dick for a 1-0 lead 19:34 into the first half for the Dragons (3-9-3).
“It was an overall effort (by the team),” Paneto said. “They were all good touches and we got the ball where we needed to for her to make a play. We talked before the game about having good clean touches and having the right touch with passes. We did that to a T today.”
Candela struck again when she took a pass on the right side, zipped past a defender and stuck the ball in the net at the 31:42 mark for a 2-0 Lakeside advantage.
“Kaytee is a heck of a player,” Peluso said. “We knew we had to be aware of her and we lost her a few times. She made us pay.”
Campbell put the Dragons up, 3-0, when she took a corner kick and found the net in the 37th minute.
“Zoey and I practiced that before the game,” Paneto said. “We were working on hooking the ball toward the net. It played in our favor because she did it correctly. She did what she was supposed to do.”
“That was just a nice play on her part,” Peluso said. “It was a nice ball. It just barely got over Jill and Zhen made a last-ditch effort to stop it, but couldn’t. You’re not going to see a lot of corners struck with the right foot from that angle go in.”
Trailing by three was the exact situation Peluso had wanted to avoid.
“It’s frustrating,” Peluso said. “We talked about it before the game. The exact same thing happened last year (at Lakeside). We were down, 3-1, at the half, but we lost. I told them before the game I didn’t want to be talking about being down at the half.
“It’s definitely frustrating. I thought we’d come out stronger than we did. Some of that was Lakeside. They pushed us around a little bit. They beat us to balls and we didn’t win any 50-50 balls (in the first half).”
Edgewood cut into that deficit in the 38th minute.
Juliana Kosik beat Keasling to send the Warriors into the break trailing by two.
“Even after the game, Juliana came up and said we didn’t congratulate her after her goal (it was just her second of the season),” Peluso said. “I don’t think it gave us momentum as much as it took us from being down 3-0 to being down 3-1, which looked a lot better than 3-0 did.
“It wasn’t instant, but it did have an impact. When Zhen scored her second goal, we all went nuts. It wasn’t like that (when Kosik scored), but it was an important goal. I think it was a bit deflating to Lakeside, too.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.