Defense Stands Tall In Wisconsin

WISCONSIN - It was the best of both worlds for the Shattuck-St. Mary's U-19 team as they brought both their goal scoring touch along with defensive resilience on their trip to Wisconsin for two MRL games. While the attack registered 11 goals in the two games, the defense turned in a dominating performance by allowing no goals and only a single shot on goal in 180 minutes of play. 

In Saturday's game against Fusion FC the Sabres dominated possession and created numerous scoring chances early one. However, the breakthrough for the first goal did not take place until nearly a half hour was gone in the match. Halie Reznik got on the end of a Hannah Melchiorre cross to steer her header past the goalkeeper, off the goal post and into the net. 

SSM took that slender lead into halftime, but came out for the second half ready to write a different story. Just two minutes after the break midfielder Alyssa Hendricks was dragged down by the Fusion goalkeeper resulting in a penalty kick. Hendricks took the responsibility for the spot kick herself and cooly rolled the ball past the goalkeeper to double the Sabre advantage.

The Maroon and White used that early goal to build momentum throughout the second half. Morgan Friday seized upon the opportunity and scored not one, not two, but three second half goals to give her a second hat trick on the young season. Alaysia Lane and Hannah Melchiorre also tore through the Fusion defense to add goals and bring the tally to seven on the day. 

While the goal scoring was impressive, the defending was equally overwhelming. The Sabres rarely allowed their opponent across the midfield line and shutout Fusion not only in goals, but shots as well. 

Sunday's game against Strike FC proved to be a stronger challenge, but once again SSM demonstrated they was up to the task. This time the Sabres scored much earlier when 10 minutes into the match Halie Reznik found Lane just inside the penalty area. The Rutgers commit curled a perfect one time left footed shot over several defenders, around the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 

Again SSM took a 1-0 into the half and again they wasted little time doubling their advantage in the second half. This time Friday showed a combination of speed, strength and skill when she was able to get around her defender, ride off a challenge and cut back a pass for Lane to finish inside the six yard box. 

Junior Miya Lennon removed any doubt of a Strike FC comeback when she picked up a pass from Hendricks in midfield then proceeded to blow past the entire backline and slot a shot past the goalkeeper to give SSM a three goal lead. Reznik then added the icing on the cake by heading in her second goal of the weekend from an Elin Johansson cross. 

On the day, the Sabre defense was feeling generous and allowed Strike FC one shot on goal that was easily saved by goalkeeper Sophia Grenz. The backline of Rachel Collins, Brooke Volpe, Sacia Hanson, Susan Kehl and Anna Kuhl demonstrated their growing solidity as a unit, while the midfielders and fowards in front of them also displayed their committment to total team defending. 

The U-19s are back in action this weekend with games against Maplebrook Saturday at 4 PM and REV Academy Black 98 at 11:00 AM Sunday.