By Greg Gielczyk
GRAYLING – It was a physical game when the Grayling Lady Vikings girls soccer team played Harbor Springs on Thursday, May 5 and early on it was Harbor Springs that controlled the ball, settling in the middle of the 18.
It led to Harbor Springs punching in a couple of goals before the Lady Vikings settled down and began to play better defense, keeping Harbor Springs out of the net for the remainder of the first half.
“We kept Harbor Springs to the outside and only allowed bad angled shots,” Grayling soccer coach Craig Cobb explained.
This enabled the Lady Vikings to stay within two goals when the teams came out for the start of the second half, but Harbor Springs knocked Grayling back on its heels with two more goals to take a 4-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Harbor Springs defense kept the Lady Vikings from getting many good looks and posted a shutout throughout the game.
Jackie Denton played a solid game at sweeper for Grayling, and Mollie Binert stood tall in net and finished the game with 10 saves.
Grayling traveled to Aplena on Monday, April 18 and took advantage of a strong wind that was at its back to bombard the Alpena goal with a slew of shots. Unfortunately, the Lady Vikings had little success moving the ball out of the box.
That, in turn, created some confusion in the Grayling offense and enabled Alpena to move out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first half. Grayling did much better in the second half and controlled the play early.
“We cleaned up our defensive approach and lots of good chances to score,” Cobb said.
About a minute was left in the game when Nicole Oppermann followed through on the far post and scored the Lady Vikings’ only goal in a 3-1 loss.
The Lady Vikings lost, 2-0 to Cheboygan in Cheboygan on Wednesday, April 20. It was only a 1-0 game at the end of the first half, with keeper Binert coming up with 10 saves. Grayling had its opportunities, but failed to finish. The defense was paced by Jackie Denton, Skyler Robison, Esa Powers and Dani Linderer.
Kalkaska grabbed an early 1-0 lead on Grayling on Friday, April 21 but the Lady Vikings rallied to tie it on a goal by Natalie Amy on a deflected assist that landed in front of her feet. Oppermann then converted an assist from Robison to put the Lady Vikings in the lead, 2-1 in the second half.
But the Lady Blue Blazers tied the score at 2-2 in the final eight minutes and the game went into overtime. Robison connected on a corner kick from Cortney Hickman to give Grayling a 3-2 win.
Grayling couldn’t carry that momentum over into the Wednesday, April 27 game with Charlevoix which the Lady Vikings lost, 5-2.
Mollie Leslie pushed a slow roller through the middle to Amy who blistered it past the keeper to make it 1-1 at the half. Hickman scored Grayling’s only other goal with a nice play that began as she put a touch on the ball to spring past the sweeper before getting it just inside the far post.
“Despite it being a loss, I was really pleased with the way we played,” Cobb said. “We created multiple scoring opportunities. We were moving to the ball better and we came out with intensity. Mollie Binert had an outstanding game in net with 15 saves. Molly Leslie, Cortney Hickman, Paige Scheer and Natalie Amy had standout games.”
Grayling slipped to 2-5 for the season.