BRUNSWICK — After posting arguably the biggest win in program history Saturday, the Brunswick girls soccer team’s task was to avoid a letdown Monday.
In a non-league game that featured an early scoring frenzy, the Blue Devils did just that, fighting their way to a 2-2 non-league draw with Wadsworth at Judy Kirsch Stadium.
It wasn’t easy for Brunswick (5-1-2), which defeated county rival Medina for the first time in 16 years a little more than 48 hours earlier — especially after seeing the Grizzlies (5-0-1) take a quick 1-0 lead.
“They know what it meant to beat Medina and they know what it means to keep playing that way,” Blue Devils coach Scott Ward said. “The expectations are higher, and they’ve always heard about the potential and about what they should be, so this was a chance for them to prove that they can play.”
On a night when all the scoring came in the first 13 minutes, the Blue Devils never led, but they fought back each time they fell behind.
“We just came off an exciting win against Medina and clearly we wanted this a lot more,” junior midfielder Geena Gamble said. “It was tough coming off the win.”
The Grizzlies’ Sarah Berger scored just 2:58 into the game when she uncorked a left-footed bomb on a direct kick from 28 yards out that found the top corner.
Less than 5 minutes later, Gamble headed in a corner kick from Macey Juguilon on the backside of the box to tie things.
That Brunswick momentum was short-lived, as speedy Wadsworth forward Leah Runkle broke away from the pack after a restart and netted her ninth goal of the season 11 seconds later.
“We got caught by Runkle’s speed,” Ward said. “We knew she was a good player. Obviously, we didn’t mark her at first, but then we had Heather Craska mark her and she did a phenomenal job from that point on.”
Craska’s play proved to be pivotal. Runkle had only one other shot on goal later in the first half, which keeper Erin Calhoun (5 saves) made a finger-tip stop on.
Trailing 2-1, the Blue Devils stayed composed, as it was Gamble again on the backside, this time taking a cross from outside midfielder Gabby Maslowski and toe-poking the ball in.
“I told them that the most dangerous part of the game is after you score, and twice we let down right after it happened,” Grizzlies coach Paul Williford said. “Not marking up on the backside killed us. Some of that you can’t coach. They just need to suck it up and deal with it. It’s definitely frustrating.”
The advantage was in Brunswick’s end for the second half, as it had seven shot attempts, many coming in the closing minutes.
A late foul almost decided the game when Berger got tangled with Brunswick’s Nikki Shotzbarger in the right corner of the box. As two players fell, a foul was called, but after the referee met with the assistant referee and they decided to place the ball on the outside of the box as opposed to awarding a penalty kick.
“Both feet were in the box and she fell in the box,” Ward said of the play. “I’m not sure what else you can call it (but a penalty kick).”
For Berger, it caused a sigh of relief.
“I was hoping it wasn’t, because that would’ve decided the game and that would’ve been disappointing,” the senior defender said. “I was just mad, because I knew it wasn’t a foul.”
Shotzbarger almost got her revenge minutes later as she stole the ball from Berger, took two dribbles and unleashed a bullet that Grizzlies goalie Hannah Centea (5 saves) knocked away with a diving stop to her right.
“It was huge, especially because for the most part up until that time, they didn’t have big, threatening shots on her,” Williford said. “For her to be ready in a big-time moment like that is huge.”
Brunswick and Wadsworth’s junior varsity squads played to a 0-0 tie. The goalkeeping tandem of Allison Mysliwiec and Morgan Bohrer combined to pick up the shutout for the Devils, while Grizzlies counterpart Morgan Cook also posted a clean sheet.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.