May 25, 2017
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NOW: 53°
HI 57 / LO 50

Lancers starting to roll

St. Joseph wins sixth straight


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By Darren Day


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Kenosha News Correspondent

A cold chill set in over Anderson Park in the second half of Thursday’s non-conference girls soccer match.

While the new weather system brought a sudden drop in temperature, it was St. Joseph that heated up its play against visiting Indian Trail in the final 45 minutes.

The Lancers erased a 1-0 halftime deficit with a pair of second-half goals to pull out a 2-1 victory over the Hawks for their sixth consecutive win.

St. Joseph improved to 8-4, while Indian Trail dropped to 3-8-4.

“We have such a young team with nine freshmen that we knew we might struggle at the beginning of the season, but we have made big improvements as the season has gone along,” St. Joseph coach Edgar Espinosa said. “We want to be playing at our best at crunch time, as we are now at that point in the season.”

Freshmen forwards Katherine Hamm and Elizabeth Alia and goalie Elliana Mandli stood out for the Lancers.

“We identified (Hamm) as being a special player to keep a close eye on before the game, but we didn’t do a very good job of containing her,” Indian Trail coach Drew Baker said.

After being a thorn in the side of the Hawks’ defense on several strong runs down the right side in the first half, Hamm slotted a pass to Alia in the 61st minute that resulted in a 25-yard scoring blast to tie the game at 1-1.

With 16 minutes left to play, Hamm put the Lancers ahead for good with a lengthy goal of her own in the top left corner that Indian Trail keeper Chloe Masi (five saves) had no chance of stopping. It was her eighth goal of the season.

“Hamm might be one of our smallest players, but she plays big on the field,” Espinosa said. “She’s made such a big leap from middle school to high school to become a really good varsity player. It’s going to be fun to watch her play in the next few years.”

Espinosa also credited the play in goal of Mandli, who made seven saves and was not shy about coming off her goal line to keep Indian Trail frustrated.

“She played a few games for us this season, but this was the biggest start she’s had,” said Espinosa, who did not have the services of senior goalie Rachel Jenewein on Thursday.

“I thought she showed a lot of composure in such a tight game.”

The Lancers also received solid play defensively from Rachael Wood, Maggie Rafferty, Josephine Knight, Kathryn Istvanek, Stella Harrington and Arianna Bosco.

Indian Trail’s own freshman standout, Elena Johns, tallied her second goal of the season to open the game’s scoring in the 37th minute. Johns made strong move from the left side to free up a 20-yard high shot down the middle that found the back of the net off the fingertips of Mandli.

The Hawks had several more scoring opportunities in the contest but could not cash in.

“We had a couple of shots hit the post and a few times we had the goalie beat, but we failed to finish,” Baker said.

“That’s been the story of our season, that we have had our struggles offensively. Except for our win over Racine Park (10-0), we haven’t scored more than one goal in any game. That’s not good enough to win games.”

While Espinosa hopes his team can continue its strong play the rest of its season, Baker knows his team must make some quick changes in order to finish out the year on a high note.

“We have three games left before the playoffs to turn it around, and it’s up to the girls if they want to finish strong,” he said. “We have to do a better job of controlling the midfield and completing our passes to create scoring chances.”

St. Joseph has busy schedule in the coming weeks with five games and a tournament before the WIAA playoffs.

“This team learning with each game, and with all of our younger players, I think that could mean trouble for our upcoming opponents if we continue to play well,” Espinosa said.


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