by Michael Smith
In recent games, the defense for the Grain Valley girls soccer team has been on point.
Coming into Thursday’s non-conference matchup with Blue Springs South, the Eagles had three shutouts in a row and have one seven consecutive games.
In that span, they have surrendered just .57 goals per game.
That trend continued against the Jaguars as Grain Valley notched its fourth straight shutout and seventh of the season in a 3-0 win at South.
South outshot the Eagles overall but many of its shots were either hit right at Grain Valley goalkeeper Alayna Maybell or were wide of the goal.
Maybell and the back line did their part to keep the Jaguars from scoring as the freshman goalie had six key second-half saves.
Grain Valley also got a great performance from its back line. Junior Sevreign Aumua was physical with South’s attackers and made a key clearance on a header on a shot attempt from South’s Haley Kramer and made a key sliding tackle on a breakaway attempt for the Jaguars early in the second half.
There were also a handful of times South played the ball to a wide-open Alyssa Guadagnano on the left side of the field in the final third. Even with senior Lexi Nicholson several feet behind, she made some great recovery runs to contest potential crosses or shot attempts from Guadagnano.
“We know South is really good,” Lewis said. “They have athleticism and speed up top and the girls responded to that test really well.
“I thought (the back line) did great. Their recovery runs were fantastic. We just made it hard for South to have easy opportunities. The back line has played really gritty and tough these last couple of games.”
Sophomore Ally Gilbert agreed.
“Our back line is a wall out there,” she said. “Sevi wasn’t letting anything get past her. Izzy (Lopez), Taylor (Nicholson) and (Sophia Guiliano), our whole back line did incredible today.”
South coach Todd Findley was certainly impressed by the Grain Valley defense.
“Their back line played phenomenal and their strength is very good,” Findley said. “They tackle really well and they play with great energy all over the field.”
While the defense held up against a strong Jaguar attack, the Eagles offense came alive in the second half.
Freshman Radleigh Childers made a run along the right sideline, sent a cross to sophomore Gilbert at the top of the 18-yard box and she sent a through ball to junior Emma Thiessen, who slipped a short-range shot past goalkeeper Siman Loethen for a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
“Radleigh had a great look at me and got it to me near the box,” Gilbert said. “Emma was open and I got it to her and she was able to finish.”
Junior Annabelle Totta put the game away in the 71st minute with a 30-footer that she perfectly lofted into the upper 90 after receiving a short cross from Lopez. The shot went off the fingertips of a leaping Loethen and into the net.
“I was able to get by a girl and just launch it,” Totta said. “I kind of got lucky with the ball going over the goalie’s head.”
In the 75th minute, Gilbert put the exclamation point on the win as she knocked in a shot at the goal line following a corner kick from Childers.
“When she can score, it’s so huge,” Lewis said. “It takes the pressure off Emma, Totta and Radleigh a little bit when she scores. It adds so much more to our attack. Then the opponent has to worry about more than those three.”
The Eagles improved to 14-4 on the season and are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed for the No. 1 seed in the Class 4 District 6 Tournament after the win.
“It was a big game going in,” junior Annabelle Totta said. “We really wanted this win, especially a 3-0 win. Alayna played really well and we had definitely been thinking about this game for a long time.”
Grain Valley freshman Taylor Nicholson loads up for a throw in. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Meghan Knust boots a free kick. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Annabelle Totta attempts to dribble through the teeth of the Blue Springs South defense. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore Ally Gilbert, left, had a goal and an assist and junior Annabelle Totta had a goal during a 3-0 win over Blue Springs South Thursday on the road. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Leave a Reply.
Grain Valley News
Grain Valley News is a free community news source published weekly online.
PO Box 2972
Grain Valley MO 64029