Karen Kase | The Gazette
NORTH ROYALTON — The Brunswick girls soccer team is no longer perfect.
North Royalton handed the Blue Devils their first loss of the season Wednesday night, winning 4-2 in Northeast Ohio Conference cross-division action.
The Bears (2-1) claimed the victory over the Blue Devils (3-1) behind two goals off well-executed corner kicks and one off a flip throw-in not frequently seen in girls soccer.
“Set plays won them the game,” Brunswick coach Scott Ward said. “They scored off corner kicks and a flip throw, which is just like a corner. If you look at what they’ve been able to do in other games, North Royalton is good at set pieces.
“They are a good team. When we are playing this good of a team, we have to make sure they don’t score three goals that way. We didn’t adjust well and mistakes were made on our part.”
The game was evenly matched until North Royalton struck first with 28:25 left in the first half. Alex Rechner’s left-footed corner kick found Emily Mark, who sharply and forcefully headed it past Brunswick goalkeeper Erin Calhoun.
A nearly identical scenario occurred 15 minutes later, when Mark was left unmarked and connected on another Rechner corner kick.
The Blue Devils kept pushing, though, and created opportunities late in the half.
A Bailey Blythin shot was deflected out of bounds, giving Brunswick its first corner of the game. North Royalton goalkeeper Nikki Zeilmann punched the ball over the crossbar, giving Brunswick another chance from the corner flag. After a loose-ball scramble, junior midfielder Olivia Gailey launched a rocket that found the left side of the net.
With 25:10 left in the game, Brunswick junior midfielder Macey Juguilon capitalized on a direct kick from 25 yards out. Her right-footed strike sailed over the four-person wall and Zeilmann to knot the game at 2.
From there, the Bears and their crowd were energized by Lauren DiFrancisco, who attempted four flip throw-ins in the game. On her third toss, with 21:38 remaining, Briana Steward received the ball in the center of the penalty box and punched a low shot past Calhoun.
An insurance goal by Angela Spilker with less than 2 minutes left sealed the deal.
“We know what we need to correct and clean up,” Ward said. “I’ll never tell you it’s good to lose, but it is not a mystery that we need to work on defending corners and stepping to the ball. North Royalton didn’t beat us in possession or controlling the ball, fitness or speed. They beat us on set plays.”
Said Bears coach Pete Ragone: “We work a lot on set pieces in practice because in the girls game, it makes a huge difference. We really focus and push our players to capitalize on those chances and tonight we did a great job.
“Emily Mark is phenomenal when the ball is in the air. She tracks those corners and does a tremendous job finding the goal.”
Brunswick won the junior varsity game 1-0 behind freshmen Lauren Mayell’s third goal of the season.
Contact Karen Kase at email@example.com.