Searching for offensive creativity on Thursday, the United Township girls' soccer team found some in an unorthodox way.|
It came from the hip.
With Sydney Hoepfner redirecting Katie Johnson's corner kick off her hip for a goal in the 47th minute, the Panthers had all of the offense they needed. From there, a stout defensive effort carried UT to a 1-0 win over Geneseo at the Panther Pitch.
"Sydney was alert, in the right spot at the right time," UT coach Phil Weaver said. "You want the players in the box when (the ball) comes in to attack it. I won't say it was a set play because we usually do something different. It was nice to know we were alert to the ball in that situation."
As the ball came into traffic near the goal, Hoepfner managed to get enough "hip" on the ball to send it into the goal.
"It just bounced," Hoepfner said. "I wasn't expecting it."
Other than Hoepfner's goal and a one-on-one thwarted by Geneseo keeper Darci Dietrich moments earlier, the Panthers (1-0) had no real scoring opportunities. On the opposite side, the Maple Leafs (0-1-1) constantly attacked the net but could not beat Laura Burrill.
Geneseo, which has yet to score in two matches this season, put 12 shots on goal.
"We had a lot of great opportunities. That's good," said Geneseo coach Ian Kline, whose team was shut out once last season. "But I challenged the girls. We need somebody to step up. We lost a lot of finishers. This year, we're lacking that strike. We'll find that."
Burrill had a lot to do with the Maple Leafs' inability to finish. The senior keeper tallied 10 saves, including stops on several point-blank chances.
"She pretty much saved us," Hoepfner said.
One lucky goal saved the Panthers, too.
"Anything we get like that, we'll take," Weaver said. "They're all confidence builders."
For a team relying on youth and inexperience, this was a much-needed result. Plus, it ended Geneseo's two-match winning streak in the series.
"This," Weaver said, "is massive to us to be able to beat a team who has had our number for quite some time."