With the wind at its back, St. Francis tallied a trio of second-half goals to pin a 3-0 defeat on host Oak Ridge in Delta River League soccer action Wednesday afternoon.
In need of a league win, the Trojans found little success at the offensive end with few if any shot opportunities but did well to hold the Troubadours scoreless in the first half. St. Francis’ first goal — what turned into the match-winner — came on a deflected ball from 25 yards out that floated all the way back and under the crossbar to stun both teams.
Up to that point, Trojan freshman goalie Nina Grimes performed well beyond her years with multiple saves and blocks before unrelenting pressure by the visitors took its toll. Grimes was one of several young Trojans pressed into action due to a rash of injuries that has sidelined seven Oak Ridge starters. The home team also played part of the second half minus a player who was red-carded.
“They (St. Francis) came out strong in the second half and there were some defensive mistakes that they capitalized on. Plus, losing someone to a red card made it hard (to stop the Troubadours),” Trojan coach Henry Reis said. “From defense to midfield to the forwards, our shaping wasn’t good today and we were more defensive than offensive.”
Wednesday’s match under sunny but breezy conditions, began as a midfield battle but soon turned into a track race for Alex Ghilarducci, Caira Woo, Amanda Sticklemann and Julia Crawford who were in full retreat to protect Grimes against a St. Francis onslaught led by Bobby Reilly, Hayley Hughes, Katie Clark and Kasey Curtis. Even midfielders Cheyanne Gold, Carissa Rivers, Jacqueline Hitchings and Lauren Whited had to focus on blunting the Troubadour attack.
“It’s hard to face a team like St. Francis that has so many great players. We did well in the first half and after the red card we played as hard as we could but it wasn’t enough,” Ghilarducci said. “There’s a lot of tough teams in Division I and we have a lot of freshmen so we’re trying to get our team chemistry down.”
On the other end, Oak Ridge forwards Kelly Smit and Marissa Ribeiro repeatedly ran into three, four and five St. Francis defenders and couldn’t generate much offense.
After Curtis missed from the doorstep at point-blank range, the Troubadours doubled their lead on Reilly’s cross to Hughes on a play Oak Ridge felt was offside.
“It was a horrible call,” Reis said. “She (Hughes) wasn’t participating (on the play) and then was? It’s still offside.”
Clark’s cutback shot on a pass from Curtis completed the scoring against the short-handed Trojans.