SHINGLE SPRINGS — Anna Lippuner’s penalty kick late in the second half capped a comeback that gave Oak Ridge the 2-1 Delta River League victory over host Ponderosa Tuesday.
Mother Nature’s wrath — varying degrees of rain, chill and wind gusts — threatened to undermine play on the pitch. Not until the Bruins broke the ice on a Selena Brewer penalty kick did action revert to the grinding, go-for-broke battle commonly seen between the two.
Brewer’s goal, vehemently opposed by the Trojan side, awoke Oak Ridge which pushed for the equalizer behind Hannah Miller, Miranda Miller, Lippuner and Rachel Ribeiro up front and Megan Graham in the midfield.
“It’s always a close game between us and Ponderosa,” Troy coach Joe Champion said. “After that soft PK the intensity went up and I was pleased to see our players keep their composure and fight back.”
It was a hunch that aided the Trojans (2-0-1, 5-3-3) to pull even. Informed previously that one of his players had a big kick if needed, Champion called on Kira Sahaida for the free kick near midfield.
“I told her to take the shot,” Champion said. “It was windy, wet and there was a lot of distraction in the box.”
Despite the activity in the box, no one touched Sahaida’s high, lofty kick that tied the score 1-1.
“I just tried shooting it and was surprised it went in,” Sahaida said.
The Bruin defense, led by Alivya Wimmer along with Brittany Gisin, Erica Estes and McKenna Dunn, dug in to meet the challenge until Hannah Miller was tripped at the outer edges of the box. Though Ponderosa keeper Alyssa Herrman guessed correctly, she couldn’t stop Lippuner’s go-ahead score.
“I thought we played well until the last 10 minutes … a little nervy after the tying goal,” Bruin coach Greg Spangler said. “Typical game between us … a lot of emotion but not a lot of great soccer.”
With the wind at its backs, Ponderosa (0-1-1, 6-4-2) had the first-half offensive edge as Brewer, Samantha Fowler, Sydney Rivera, Alyssa Bontkowski and others pushed the envelope. Conditions that forced a fast field forced the Oak Ridge backfield of Caira Woo, Gretchen Goyette, Laura Whited, Nicole Mazzone and keeper Nina Grimes on high alert.
After a scoreless first half, Tuesday’s second-to-last regular season meeting between the schools had the look that a mistake could decide it, maybe just one.
Grimes smothered Wimmer’s direct but lost the handle at the left post. An ensuing scramble for possession ended with Brewer converting the PK past Grimes for the lead.
The rematch is Thursday, April 24.