Karen Kase | The Gazette
GRANGER TWP. — Quickness certainly pays off in the game of soccer. So does quick thinking.
Thanks to a heads-up play following a penalty call, the Nordonia girls team took home a key 2-1 Suburban League win over Highland on Wednesday.
With the score tied 1-1, the Knights (7-4-1, 2-3) made a quick-thinking play that proved to be the difference.
Immediately following a penalty call at the top of the box, Nordonia’s Regina Rudder wasted no time driving in the game-winning goal. The extremely quick restart caught the Hornets on their heels.
For the remaining 30 minutes, Nordonia dropped all but one player back and prevented the Hornets (7-3-1, 3-1-1) from scoring.
“Taking those fast kicks is something we’ve worked on all year,” Knights coach Steve Toth said. “There’s no second whistle on that play and Regina Rudder has the call to go take it. We were fortunate because tonight, she hit it perfectly.
“It’s a huge win and it’s a great rivalry. This was a big one for us because we couldn’t afford to lose. I knew this game would be very close one way or the other, so I told them if we got a lead we would switch it up. We dropped back and followed the plan because we knew they’d be coming at us.”
Highland coach Gina Fox credited Nordonia, but also felt her team should have been ready.
“We had a total lack of focus. Credit them for the quick restart,” she said. “When a team packs it in like that, you’ve got to drop the ball back, play it out wide, look for crosses and get them to shift. They did a good job and we didn’t execute. We weren’t smart enough.”
Entering the game on an unbeaten streak of seven games dating back to the end of August, the Hornets got on the scoreboard first on an unassisted goal by senior midfielder McKenzie Koch.
As so many of Highland’s plays begin, senior midfielder Anna Rose Wiencek played a right-footed through ball ahead to the front line. Koch retrieved it and fired a shot past Nordonia goalkeeper Ashley Allen (8 saves).
Nordonia’s first goal came with just 1:35 remaining in the first half when Emily Fenn blasted the ball past a diving Madison Less, who recorded five official saves and collected numerous balls off her line.
The Hornets outshot the Knights 18-11 and were on the attack for a good portion of the game. Wiencek had several direct kicks just miss and senior forward Amanda Schniegenberg’s left-footed blast in the first half hit the post.
Schniegenberg, who ranks among county scoring leaders with nine goals this season, tallied eight shots on the night.
“It’s like the old saying goes, ‘You’ve got to take the good with the bad,’” Fox said. “We’ve done a lot of good things this season but tonight doesn’t reflect that. We didn’t have a good overall match and we came out without a lot of energy.
“The urgency came too late at the end of the game. There are still goals we have as a team that we want to hit this year. We have to just keep looking ahead. It’s not unusual to have a rough match somewhere on the schedule and tonight was that match for us.”
Contact Karen Kase at email@example.com.