Women's Soccer Team Shuts Out Two Foes,
Drops Two Narrow Decisions in England
News Release Date:
Saturday, August 6, 2011
WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The Whitman College women's soccer team continues to play .500 ball on its tour through England, shutting out two opponents this past week while dropping two other games by a single goal.
Whitman, now 3-3 on its trip, plays its final two games against Aston Villa (Sunday) and the Yeovil Town First Team (Tuesday).
The Missionary contingent then takes a sight-seeing trip to the Manchester United grounds on Wednesday before returning to the States later in the week.
Here's a recap of Whitman's four most recent games:
Saturday, July 30: Whitman 5, Bridgewater Town 0
According to e-mail reports from coach Heather Cato, Whitman "played a bit frantic" in a scoreless first half with Bridgewater Town, a physical side that was probably the least talented team "we had played to that point."
The Missionaries took control in a second half that saw Bridgewater Town generate relatively few offensive forays.
Whitman broke the scoring ice when a corner kick from Jaclyn Rudd found the net after being misplayed by Bridgewater's keeper.
"Our second goal came on a great ball played from Julianne Masser to Amy Hasson, who finished it far post, side netting," Cato says.
With Bridgewater unable to create any offensive opportunities, Whitman outside backs Claire Westcott and Erin Flannery joined the the Missionary attack.
"This additional offensive pressure allowed Amy (Hasson) to play a brilliant ball into Liz Clagett, who slipped it past the keeper," Cato says.
Hasson booted her second goal when she out-raced a defender to the ball and beat the keeper one on one.
"Our fifth and final goal, which completed Amy's hat trick, came when she finished a ball that Marisa Poorboy had slipped behind the defense," Cato says.
"Overall, the game was great in that we created more opportunities in the second half. We're becoming more active as runners off the ball."
Tuesday, Aug. 2: West Bromwich Albion 3, Whitman 2
West Bromwich Albion, which plays in Division II of a professional league, was a "true test for us -- they are probably better than any team we will see in our conference," Cato says.
Whitman snared the early lead, however, on what Cato called an "incredible" scoring play. "We knocked the ball around with almost every player touching it before Liz Clagett cut the ball from outside to inside, finding Hallie Swan, who finished it with ease."
West Bromwich Albion regained control with three goals over the final 35 minutes of the first half. After Whitman's failure to clear a corner kick led to the first goal, the home team turned up the heat with a brilliant goal off a header and added a 35-yard scoring strike.
"We decided at halftime that we were going to go out and win the second half," Cato says. "We corrected a few tactical issues and went more on the offensive.
"We made the adjustments, our backs took less pressure and we shut down their attack. The team battled and sorted things out on its own. It was a great test of our mental toughness and team chemistry."
While Whitman was unable to erase its two-goal deficit, it narrowed the gap to 3-2 -- and won the second half -- when Amy Hasson took a pass from Swan and battled through defensive pressure for the goal.
"Although we didn't win the game, we beat some of the ghosts that haunted us last season," Cato says.
Thursday, Aug. 4: Whitman 3, Forest Green 0
Playing on a pitch marked by an incline from one end of the field to the other, Whitman withstood a disadvantaged first half to dominate the second stanza.
"We decided to play up the hill and against the wind in the first half, which put us under a lot of pressure," Cato says.
"Forest Green was a more direct team, so they played it over the top and let their forwards run onto the ball. We also had trouble keeping and possessing the ball, which made it a hard half of soccer to watch and frustrating for the girls to play.
"Coach (Mike) Washington and I tried to calm the girls down and address our lack of possession at half time; this seemed to work. We played a lot smoother and it was a more flowing game of soccer."
Whitman's first goal came on a "great pass down the line from Pam London to Kelsey Roehner, who has been playing herself back into shape from an injury," Cato says.
"Kelsey played a cross from the right flank that floated to the back post and dropped into the back of the net. This is why we tell our outside mids to keep the ball on the playing field because you never know what could happen."
The next two Missionary goals came courtesy of "better rhythm of play -- and going down hill didn't hurt either," Cato says.
"The better possession allowed for our outside backs to get involved in the attack. Erin Flannery, after receiving a great layoff pass at the top of the box from Amy Hasson, bent it around the keeper.
"Then, Taylor Thomas stole the ball from a Forest Green player, took a few touches and finished a great third goal to put a cap on our victory. Although it wasn't the best soccer we have played here, we battled through our exhausted bodies, bumps and bruises to pull out the win."
Friday, Aug. 5: Cardiff City 3, Whitman 2
There was another surprise, in terms of the playing surface, waiting for Whitman when it arrived at Cardiff City.
"This was a field that I'm sure the girls would love to use for our fitness training," Cato says. "I couldn't believe how small it was, but that isn't an excuse for how we played."
Cardiff City was "by far the most physical team we have played since starting the tour," Cato says. "At one point, it got a bit heated between a few players on each team. We were a bit flat in first half and we weren't prepared for the physical play, which got us flustered, myself included."
With Cardiff City leading 2-0 at halftime, the Whitman contingent talked during intermission about "concentrating on our style and expecting to get hit harder than we have in the past," Cato says. "We talked about dealing with it and moving on."
The adjustments worked as Whitman scored twice in the second half to tie the game.
"The first goal was almost a replay of the one Kelsey Roehner scored the night before," Cato says.
"Taylor Chock took a ball from a throw in and played it down the line to Sara Sonnenblick, who spotted Julianne Masser far post. Sara's ball floated over the keeper and into the back of the net."
Whitman's second goal came off a corner kick. Amy Hasson beat the keeper to the ball, but her header clanged off the post. Kate Potter was in the right spot at the right time, knocking the deflection into the back of the net.
With time running out, Cardiff City scored again inside the final two minutes to pull out the victory.
After some long bus rides and six games in two weeks, Cato says, the "mental exhaustion of playing such good competition has started taking its toll on the girls. We continue to encourage them and applaud their accomplishments.
"We're trying to keep these games in perspective. West Bromwich, Cardiff City and Aston Villa all won 14-plus games last season and were ranked first, second and third in the women's top league. These teams are better than any team we will play next season, and so far, we have scored four goals on two of the them, and we were never out of either of those games.
"We re-emphasized how proud we are of the fight, the response, and the pure determination these girls have shown on this tour."
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org