CONNEAUT — The Conneaut Spartans matched the physical play of the Sharon (Pa.) Tigers on their way to a 1-0 victory Monday night in a Division 10 conference girls soccer match at Garcia Field.
Conneaut improved to 5-2 on the season while Sharon fell to 1-1. Both teams were able to spend significant stretches on their opponent’s side of the field, but strong defensive play and superior goalkeeping proved to the theme of the night.
The lone goal of the game came with 8:17 left in the first half by Conneaut freshman Mikayla Thompson on a kick just inside the net to the Sharon goalkeeper’s right side.
Sharon coach Jordan Zajac argued that a Conneaut player was offside on the play and the goal should not have counted.
There also was some initial confusion as to whether the ball actually went between the posts because it rolled through the bottom of the net and it was difficult to tell from some perspectives.
“The one player was offside and she made a play for the ball and it should have been called for an offside, but we can’t credit that for the reason we lost today,” Zajac said. “We had our opportunities and didn’t finish. Conneaut battled and were very physical and took us out of our element a little bit.”
After the shot on goal, the officials huddled for a couple minutes while the crowd in attendance and scoreboard operator remained unsure if a goal scored. The officials finally made a signal that the Spartans had scored.
“The controversy wasn’t necessarily about the goal it was about an offside call they thought was offside and the referee said wasn’t,” Conneaut coach Becky Thomas said. “The confusion came because it went through the net so then nobody knew and from far away you couldn’t tell if it was a goal or not.
“We knew it was a goal because how our kids reset and brought the ball back up to the middle. That (goal) turned out to be the ball game.”
Thomas said the Spartans are a young team this season,
but one that is
physical and more
of a defensive-minded program that is beginning to bring that mindset to the offensive side.
Claire Eaton and Jaydin Coy, both sophomores, along with Thompson, have
been the Spartans
leading scorers this season.
“We’re off to a better start than last year, I feel like we’re using what we learned last year, this year,” Eaton said.
Senior goalkeeper Annalee Hagstrom, who did not allow a goal against Sharon, has been having a solid season, allowing only a few goals to keep her team in games when the offensive side isn’t scoring a lot, Thomas said.
“My past couple games are the best games I’ve played so far this season,” said Hagstrom, who had 14 saves Monday. “I honestly give it to my (defensive teammates). They made it very hard for them to take good shots, the shots they had were from the corner or from up the middle and getting in front of them and making it hard.”
Hagstrom believes the Spartans are
capable of great
things moving forward.
“I hope it only
gets bigger and better from here and I know this team can accomplish so much more than we already are,” she said. “We just
have to put the work in
and we have to keep pushing.”
scheduled to host Slippery Rock at 5 p.m. Wednesday.