COPLEY TWP. — The setup against good girls soccer teams is to make sure to stay away from set pieces.
Highland couldn’t find a solution to that problem Wednesday in a 3-1 loss to Copley, and it ultimately cost the Hornets in a Suburban League tilt with the two-time defending conference champs.
Copley (4-1, 2-0) had eight corner kicks, and twice those pieces set up tallies by Cortni Arp, who scored all three goals.
“You give that girl credit,” Highland coach Gina Fox said. “She was in the right place, was running around and tactically knew where she needed to be. It’s upsetting because you know you have a girl to track. You know where you need to be. You know your mark. How is she getting to the ball?”
What was more upsetting was the fact the Hornets (2-3, 1-1) made sure players like University of Cincinnati pledge Jordan Cotleur and Courtney Campbell, who is getting Division I looks, were held in check.
But they had no answer for Arp and Lipscomb University commit Brooke Brenner, who assisted on both corner kick goals.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league,” Highland defender Elle Cain said. “They have a lot of skilled players. You learn from all your mistakes. You see how they scored and try to fix that, so it doesn’t happen against other teams.”
The Indians didn’t drill Hornets keeper Madison Less (11 saves) with one great shot after another, but they made sure to keep pressure on the Highland defense.
The Indians’ first goal came on a ball that bounced around in the box for what seemed like forever before Arp beat Less to the right and low.
The second goal came off a toe pass from Olivia Olorunto to Arp that left the sophomore one-on-one with Less.
Arp’s hat trick came on another corner kick sent into the box midway through the second half that wasn’t exactly peppered on goal, but she had the wherewithal to get it on frame.
“We’ve had trouble this season with (set pieces),” Fox said. “A goal is a goal, so you have to give them that. You give them credit, but they were garbage goals in the sense that it’s not a beautiful shot on goal or a one touch. It’s good soccer, playing the ball in the mixer. It’s like the ball is bouncing around.”
The Hornets had a measure of satisfaction when Cain’s hustle play near the top of the box kept a shot alive as it ticked past Taylor Snuffer and trickled across the goal line for Highland’s lone score.
A year ago, the Hornets played Copley to a 0-0 tie and eventually finished the season with their highest finish in conference history (3rd).
The Indians went on to become Brunswick D-I District runners-up in 2013, so the performance Wednesday wasn’t what Fox was looking for.
“Copley is a terrific team,” she said. “They’re looked at to win the league. They won it outright last year and there was a three-way tie the year before.
“It’s just heartbreaking. It’s wrenching. We had that thrilling win last week against Wadsworth (a 1-0 triumph). You want a redo. Our girls never gave up. It could have been a blowout, but they fought and the second half was 1-1. That shows you the battle in them.”
Highland and Copley played to a 0-0 tie in the matinee. Kennedy Mead made four saves for the Hornets.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.