On the Moline side of the soccer pitch on Tuesday evening, the mood was solemn. Not much was said as the proceedings of the game were being reflected upon by coach Rick Sanchez.|
On the Alleman side, the attitude was light, almost jovial.
After the Western Big 6 Conference girls' game, it was difficult to tell who had done what on the field.
For the two hours prior, though, there was very little doubt. Moline dominated play en route to the 2-0 victory at McKenzie Field.
The Maroons had the ball in their end almost the entire game and fired off 17 shots – 11 of them on goal – as the Pioneers went the first 73 minutes without a shot. But the Maroons (6-3-0, 2-0 Big 6) had trouble finishing against a packed Alleman defense and some stingy keeping by senior Macy Hoskins.
"We did some nice things and obviously did enough to get the win,'' said Sanchez. "But we need to put complete games together. We're in a part of our season where we need to keep a complete game from back line to midfield to front line.''
Sanchez was a little frustrated that his squad could only score twice despite all the offensive pressure. In the seventh minute, junior Hannah Navarrete tapped in a rebound when Kelsi Smith knocked a shot off the cross bar. In the 13th minute, Smith ripped a shot from the top left corner of the 18-yard box into the top right corner, closing a feed from Aubrey Foulk.
There were plenty of other chances, too, but the Pioneers -- who had won five straight -- managed to keep it close. That was something they hadn't done vs. the mighty Maroons in a few years, getting blown out by at least six goals each of the last two seasons.
"The girls did fantastic and there was a lot of positives to take from this,'' said Alleman coach Randy Bollman, praising his club for taking key cog Bri Hughes from being a factor. "Holding Moline to 2-0 is extremely good for us. The girls played out of their minds for the whole game.''
Despite not getting any scoring chances until the waning moments, Alleman (5-2-0, 1-2 Big 6) almost did the unthinkable. The Pioneers' first shot on goal with 7:10 left was Alexandria Serra's blast from just in front of the goalie box past keeper Rachel Holt, but it drilled the crossbar before being cleared.
With 2:10 left, Serra again found herself in the crease and tapped the ball toward the goal. Holt had to move quickly to her right and grabbed it right at the line – Bollman and the Pioneers thinking it had actually caught the chalk.
"I told the girls when you play teams like this, you have to finish those opportunities; you're not going to get 20 shots on goal like we did against some team we played,'' said Bollman. "Everything has to be finished.''
Instead, it was the Maroons finishing the task and keeping the momentum following a huge victory over Quincy on Saturday.
"This is a really important win for us being that it was a conference match and after a big win against Quincy, it was good to continue on,'' said Moline's Foulk. "Quincy is a big rival and we were really excited to win that game. But we knew Alleman was just as important because if we didn't win this game, our last one wouldn't have mattered.''
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