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Maple Grove hands Westfield/Brocton its second loss, 2-0

Westfield/Brocton’s Laura Johnston (right) maintains possession as Maple Grove’s Britta Johnson defends during Thursday’s girls soccer game in Westfield. OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms.

WESTFIELD — Earlier this season, the Westfield/Brocton Lady Wolverines beat the Maple Grove Red Dragons on their home turf.

Thursday, the Red Dragons got their revenge as they took down the Lady Wolverines in the final Section VI CCAA Central regular season girls soccer game of the year at North Lake in Westfield, 2-0.

With the wind in their favor, the Red Dragons pounced on the Lady Wolverines early. In the second minute, an opportunity for Maple Grove that would normally be just a routine play for Angel Busch in net saw the ball take an extra spin as the heavy wind aided the ball’s journey to the back of the net and gave Maple Grove an early 1-0 lead. The goal was scored by Taylor Bower and the assist was courtesy of Ana Pavlock.

“They had the wind first,” stated Westfield/Brocton head coach Neil Huber. “It makes a difference. They know they can play good defense. Today was just one of those days.”

The Maple Grove offense wasn’t done there as in the ninth minute, Bower again found the back of the net with a shot that had eyes for the goal as it pinballed in off a Lady Wolverines’ defender and made it 2-0.

“It’s always huge,” Maple Grove head coach Mike Burr said about scoring the early goals. “We’ve struggled all year long trying to score goals. It’s not something we’ve usually had a problem with in the past, so this year’s been a little tricky. So getting that goal really quick and getting that next one really let us settle in.”

After the two quick goals against, Westfield/Brocton cleaned up their act defensively and began finding opportunities of their own. Usually lining up on the Lady Wolverines’ back line, Laura Johnston found herself most of the day playing in the midfield and the captain Johnston helped begin to generate Westfield/Brocton’s first chances.

In the 19th minute, the Lady Wolverines got their best chance of the first half as Laura Johnston found herself on a breakaway, but her shot just missed the mark and kept the score 2-0 in favor of Maple Grove. The Lady Wolverines continued to bring the pressure on Maple Grove as they maintained great possession.

Another great opportunity came when Makena Barresi made her way down the left wing and connected with Laura Johnston in the box, once again the shot missed its mark and kept the score 2-0. The final opportunity in the half was generated by Katie Bodenmiller who sent a through ball behind the Maple Grove back line, into the box, but Kasie Craig came out of her net to beat Sheala Barresi to the ball and kept it 2-0. Craig finished the match with five saves in the shutout performance and the final save in the first half might have been the biggest one.

“There were a lot of things out of control today,” stated Coach Huber. “Gotta give credit to Maple Grove, they were able to take advantage of things. They played good defense, we just couldn’t bust through. We had a couple of chances… now the real season picks up and I’ve gotta make sure my girls are ready.”

The second half saw the Lady Wolverines continue to generate great possession, but the Maple Grove defense did a great job of limiting scoring opportunities. As the half went on, Maple Grove started getting more chances towards the net. After the two uncharacteristic early goals against, Busch stood tall in net and swatted away every chance sent her way. Busch ended the game with 14 saves on 16 shots.

“I kept telling them they’d have to believe in themselves,” Coach Burr stated. “We knew that they had three or four really amazing girls and the rest of their team is really solid. We knew that we had to deny defensively and play strong and tight, because they’re so fast and so talented. Our defense played amazing.”

Westfield/Brocton brought more pressure late, but it was too late as Maple Grove held on for the 2-0 shutout victory over the CCAA Central champion Wolverines.

Both teams will await the announcement of their playoff opponents for the Class C playoffs.

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