By Greg Gielczyk
CHARLEVOIX — Spotting the Charlevoix Red Rayders a 4-0 lead in the first half put the Grayling girls soccer team in catch-up mode right from the start in a Lake Michigan Conference game on Friday, May 20.
Things did not get much better in the second half for the Vikings, either, as they were dealt a crushing blow when the Rayders were awarded a penalty kick which they successfully converted for a 5-0 lead. Grayling would fail to score.
Mollie Binert had a solid game between the pipes for the Vikings in making 10 saves but the Rayders put too much pressure on Grayling in the half and it was a blitz that left the Vikings’ offense scrambling to gather itself.
“The girls have grown a ton this season,” Grayling coach Craig Cobb said. “We hope to finish the regular season strong.”
Grayling picked up a 4-0 shutout victory over the Clare Pioneers on Tuesday, May 17 in a game that was not nearly as competive as the final score indicates. The Vikings dominated the action from start to finish.
“We did a much better job of controlling the ball and being first to it,” Cobb said. “In the first half we struggled to put the ball in space for our forwards to run to take the pass.”
Then fortune smiled on the Vikings when Molly Leslie was fouled inside the 18 setting up an early penalty kick in the seconds. After she nailed the shot the Vikings seemed to come alive and did a better job of lifting their heads and finding the open player.
Natalie Amy opened the game up when she buried two shots and Skyler Robison added another to put the game away. Amy, Ashley Haring and Paige Scheer each contributed assists as the offense got its act together. Binert finished with one save in net as the Vikings defense limited Clare’s opportunities and kept the ball in the Grayling end.
Earlier the Vikings lost to Traverse City St. Francis, 3-2 in an exciting game. After a scoreless tie at the end of the first half Grayling scored to take a 1-0 lead when Leslie got the ball to Amy for a goal.
St. Francis responded, though, to tie the game at 1-1 and then found the back of the net again second later to take a 2-1 lead. But the Vikings responded with a toe touch by Scheer that landed at the feet of an open Amy for the tying goal, 2-2. The Gladiators scored the game-winner with four minutes left.
“We continue to improve our connections on the field,” Cobb said. “But our positioning seems to be an area of struggle. Losing goal-side positioning opened up the opportunities that Traverse City needed. I am impressed with this team in their never giving up. We carry through to the end.”