By Greg Gielczyk
HOUGHTON LAKE — Following a 1-0 victory over Crossroads Charter Academy in Big Rapids earlier in the week to open the Northern Michigan Soccer League season, the Houghton Lake girls soccer team hosted its own Invitational on Saturday, April 16 and finished the day with one win and a tie in three games.
Like everyone else, the Lady Bobcats have been kept inside for most of the pre-season because of the field conditions which were unplayable since there was still snow covering it as winter refused to loosen its grip early.
But despite not having been outside much in preparation for the season the Lady Bobcats came out strong in their first game against the Lady Cougars, setting the tone for the game early and carrying the momentum throughout.
Big Rapids would finish the game with only one shot on goal, while the Lady Bobcats had 33 and dominated the action keeping the ball in the Lady Cougars’ end for the majority of the game, but were stymied by the play of Crossroad’s keeper who was outstanding and mave several great saves.
After a scoreless first half, the Lady Bobcats benefited from a mistake by the keeper which was turned into the only goal of the game when Alexis Souder charged in and controlled the ball to send it bouncing into the back of the net.
“For our first game and not much time being outside I was pretty happy overall,” Houghton Lake coach Darren Barnes said. “The girls did a great job of creating chances. Now they have to start finishing them. My defense was stellar today and really kept Crossroads’ offense stymied and frustrated.”
The Lady Bobcats opened their tournament Saturday against the Oscoda Lady Owls and again started out strong on defense and offense, but couldn’t put the ball in the net. But the Lady Owls also had trouble scoring. Souder and Lainey Meigs had the most shots on goal for the Lady Bobcats. Ellie Connett made two saves in registering her first shutout of the year in the 0-0 tie.
“I was really happy with how well we played on both ends of the field,” Barnes said. “The defense played well and kept the shots down and what did get by them Connett made a couple good saves on. It was a great start to the tourney for us.”
Houghton Lake hit a speed bump in the next game with the Leland Lady Comets as the Lady Bobcats fell behind 2-0 in the first 15 minutes before Leland added another goal late in the half to make it 3-0 at the intermission.
Trailing 4-0 in the second half the Lady Bobcats continued to press the attack and finally capitalized when Lexi Blanchard took a corner kick by Kenzie Forman and directed it into the net. But the Lady Bobcats gave up a late goal for the 5-1 final.
Bouncing back in the third and final game of the day Houghton Lake topped Suttons Bay, 3-1. Meigs gave the Lady Bobcats a 1-0 lead when she converted a pass from Blanchard to slide a shot past the Lady Norsemen keeper. A few minutes later Blanchard sent the ball to an open Meigs who was crossing in front of the net for a second goal and a 2-0 halftime lead.
Suttons Bay scored a goal early in the second half that shaved Houghton Lake’s lead in half at 2-1. The Lady Bobcats’ defense answered the ball, however, and held the Norsemen out of the net the rest of the way.
Houghton Lake finally was able to penetrate the Lady Norsemen’s defense with about 10 minutes left in the contest when Allison Rose gathered in a pass from Forman and scorched a shot that got just inside the post and landed in the right corner of the net.
“Overall we played a great tournament and I am happy with the girls,” Barnes said. “We are making great improvements every game.
Lady Bobcats soccer off to fast 2-1-1 start
By Greg Gielczyk
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