Quick to the draw
MICHIGAN CITY — The boys soccer edition of the Michigan City Derby between Marquette and Michigan City had just about everything and then some in the 1-1 draw on Aug. 19 and things were no different in the girls matchup on Thursday night at Michigan City High School.
Wolves sophomores Olivia Shinn and Mary Patricia Kelley netted a goal each and Blazers senior midfielder Claire Salyer laced home both goals from long distance in an exciting 2-2 draw between the nearby rivals.
“It was good,” Wolves head coach Michael Ramsey said. “I’d obviously rather win than draw, but these local things are great. The girls know other girls from Marquette and vice versa and it’s always fun. The best thing about it for me was that it was like, ‘Goal scored here, another goal here, oh no another chance, oh, a penalty was called, oh it was missed!’ It was a bit crazy.”
The Wolves found themselves on the front foot early on in the contest prior to a halfway-point water break with 20 minutes to play in the opening half. They dominated the ball and the chances, finally breaking through in the 39th minute off a smart quick throw-and-run combination worked by Shinn and Kelley that put the hosts up 1-0 at intermission.
“It’s been a long season for us, but the thing this team has not done is give up,” Blazers head coach Wil Cogdill said. “We were playing our first three or four games down a player and sometimes two. A lot of the other teams would still play with 10 or 11 players and that was fine. They can play it how they want to, but the girls seemed to kinda raise to that challenge and I think they’re carrying that over.”
After an extended halftime that saw City players stand with teachers on the touch line in front of the spectators for the school’s “Teacher Appreciation Night”, the Blazers took advantage of the extra few minutes and regrouped.
“We just talked about some things that my assistants saw during the first half and one of those things was they were rotating players on our outside two defenders,” Cogdill said. “They’re very fast girls, but when you’re rotating in fresh girls, it makes it tough. It’s a good tactic. I wish I could do that, too [laughs]. We just said to them that, ‘Hey, this is what they’re doing,’ and we told the defense to not stretch the field as much and keep it compact a little more.”
With Salyer as the catalyst in the midfield, the Blazers got on the board less than five minutes into the second half to level the match at 1. Four minutes later, Salyer’s right-footed strike from roughly 25 yards out was tipped by Wolves goalkeeper Aryanna Hartsburg but still found the back of the net to give the Blazers their first advantage at 2-1 in the 50th minute.
“It was the heat that got us early and we played a game yesterday, too,” Salyer said. “But I knew that we could still win it. We came out really strong in the second half. We came out and were playing aggressive. I thought we played great. They were playing great. I think we just all ran out of energy.”
Despite being down a goal, the Wolves regained their composure and possession by using their quickness and depth to their advantage to level the match. Shinn received a long ball from the Wolves’ defensive third, made a strong run and was able to beat Blazers keeper Riley Lindsey on her left foot to even the match in the 59th minute.
With the heat and fatigue setting in, both teams missed glorious chances in the final 20 minutes. The Blazers had six corners and a penalty opportunity with about eight minutes to play that Salyer sailed over the crossbar. The Wolves missed three one-on-one chances, including Kelley’s right-footed shot on Lindsey in the 77th minute with nobody around her and just Lindsey to beat.
“I thought Olivia, Mary Pat and even Maggie McLinden were all causing havoc,” Ramsey said. “The nice thing about the girls I just mentioned is that the oldest one is a sophomore. We have that going for us into sectionals and next year. It’s always going to be tough in the DAC, but it’s nice that you have some young players to work with moving forward.”