By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The city series showdown between the Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern girls soccer teams had the potential to be a bit of a score-a-thon on Monday, Oct. 1.
Both teams had offensive components that, over the years, have put the ball in the back of the net.
It was intense, it was physical and it was your classic BC/BE soccer game with plenty of back-and-forth action.
But the squads had to settle on a 1-1 stalemate from Alumni Field at Bristol Eastern.
And Central (1-4-1) more than held its own on enemy territory.
“I’m very proud of the effort we put in tonight,” said Central coach Ginny Godbout. “I think we left it all out on the field that’s for sure. Our girls, we were definitely pushing hard to make sure we stayed in it the whole time and I thought we had a lot of great possessions tonight.”
Eastern (0-3-2) hardly looked like a winless squad and quickly got into the offensive flow.
With five minutes gone in the first frame, Eastern had a bit of a breakaway but Central keeper Liz Hintz came out of the goal to knock the ball out on the sideline and the contest was quickly afoot.
It was one of numerous attacks made by the Eastern offense.
“We created a ton of solid opportunities,” said Eastern coach Scott Redman. “I told the girls to only get one in there, considering how many chances we created, was frustrating.”
The Rams were hanging around Eastern’s side of the field early but the Lancers’ defense met every offensive challenge.
Central’s Mia Hinton couldn’t get her footing on the ball with 32:10 left in the first half while Hintz continued to lead her defense when Eastern entered the box.
Eastern’s Kailey Laprise zipped in a ball into the box with 27:40 and after a bit of a scrum, the defense cleared it and the scoreless affair remained intact.
And Laprise continued to possess the ball well but her crosses into the box were never met by an Eastern foot.
Central’s Adalia Malick turned the gas on midway through the first but her drive was foiled by the defense and Laprise’s shot at the 24:05 mark of the first was kicked into the side of the goal.
And Eastern scoring juggernaut Myah Croze just blasted the ball past the Central keeper a minute later – from left to right by the goal – as she was looking for one more goal to become Eastern’s all-time leading scorer.
To Central’s credit, every chance Croze had the ball, several defenders loaded the box when she ventured in.
And when Laprise missed wide with 19:34 left in the half, it was apparent the Lancers were itching to draw first blood.
Croze was still looking for her chance to boot a goal in as was Malick and the action was picking up with 16:00 left.
Malick drilled another shot to the goal that Giblin met with 10:25 to play as the Rams were not enjoying the turf on Eastern’s side.
“We knew both offenses would be firing tonight,” said Redman. “[Giblin] was under fire for sure,” said Redman. “She held her own. [It was] a tough shot on the one [scoring] goal and a couple other chances that just went over the goal.”
Hinton then got knocked down with 8:40 remaining in the half and a direct kick was issued about 25 yards out.
Malick took the shot, blasted it into a wall of Eastern defenders as the game was still sitting on 0-0 score.
With 5:57 to play in the first, Croze was given a little daylight, eventually zipping a ball at the Central goalie which was tipped saved as all the scoring threats were on high alert.
Croze nearly set-up Sara Stadnicki with a minute to play and off an Eastern corner, Leah Policarpio just missed out on a goal a bit later.
Hintz was there to stop all those Eastern chances and at the half, it was 0-0 and anyone’s game.
The Lancers drew a corner kick almost immediately as play resumed in the second half but Hintz met the ball and Eastern was aggressive off the bat.
Central countered quickly with Hinton almost jamming in a missed shot from the left side of the box but did not score.
Croze was again looking for a goal but Central’s defense stuffed her and with 34:15 left in regulation, neither team could seize any real momentum.
But one ball finally fell through for Malick with 30:49 to play as she kicked in a shot from about 25 yards from the left side of the field and Central was on top 1-0.
“It’s her senior year and I know we talked about, obviously, some goals being set early on and she’s taking that role as captain and a leader definitely very seriously,” said Godbout of Malick. “And she wants to finish out her senior year on top so I think she’s putting maybe a little more pressure on herself than she should but she definitely steps up for us when we need her most and she buried that shot. It was great.”
Almost immediately, Hinton was set up for a shot and just missed out – earning Central a corner kick that was quickly dropped out of bounds.
With 26:44 to go, Laprise jammed an attempt right at Hintz as the visitors were enjoying the lead.
Eastern’s Audra Porowski then set-up Croze but her shot went wide and her follow did not fall through before Laprise’s dart – with 22:05 showing on the clock – bounced off the top bar but did not go in.
Croze then drilled another ball towards the Central goal and while she was firing away, all Eastern was hoping for was one goal to drop in.
“She had a ton of really quality opportunities,” said Redman of Croze. “She played really well. She had a ton of opportunities. It’s not easy to score. She’s makes it look easy sometimes but when you’re playing a quality opponent and you’ve got all this added kind of pressure sometimes kids put on themselves with the rivalry. It’s not easy.”
But with less than 20 minutes to go, time was becoming a bit of a factor.
With 13:20 remaining, Croze nearly set-up Laprise for a goal – in the middle of the box – but Hintz met the Central defense crew – including veterans Erika Santilli, Lilly Hansen, and Faith Roy – and the 1-0 deficit loomed big for the Rams.
“Our defense, I mean, those four girls, I rarely take them out of the game,” said Godbout of her defense. “They are just a wall back there.”
And then Eastern had numbers on a bit of a breakaway but the ball was corralled by the Central defense and with 10:20 to go, the Rams were in good shape.
However, Collins was set-up to score by the Lancers.
In another drive by Eastern, Collins took the ball about 25-yards out, she plastered it by Hintz and with 8:09 remaining in the second half, it was a brand new game at 1-1.
And the action was fast and furious to end the regulation as Laprise set-up Policarpio and with 2:33 left, Porowski nearly set up Croze for the game-winning goal.
Croze lofted the ball off the top crossbar but it did not fall through.
And as regulation ended, just like in the boys match, there were 10 additional minutes of soccer to be played.
A minute into the OT, Croze blasted another shot over the goal as Eastern was looking for a close-out score.
With less than two minutes to play in the first overtime, Central earned a corner kick but the ball bounced off the goal post as the 1-1 tie remained the score of the outing.
And with five seconds left before the squad’s switched sides, Malick’s kick from the left of the field sailed over the goal and five minutes remained in the 1-1 match.
Croze gave a sweet dish to Policarpio that was dropped in too high for Eastern early in the final overtime and with less than three minutes to play, would one final goal fall through?
It would not as both squads had to settle on a 1-1 tie.
“We just, you know, we just couldn’t quite finish a few shots,” said Godbout. “But I think, overall, we were pushing hard tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of what they were doing.”
“I think both teams had a lot of chances,” said Redman. “I thought we had a ton of chances. I was more worried about getting the one goal and I told my sideline once we get one, I had a feeling we’d get [goal number] two pretty quickly. We had more chances but, again, it was a couple inches too high, hit a crossbar, [or] whatever the case may be.”