No score came from five Comets shots — three by Lauren Kachure — in the first 12 minutes of Monday’s varsity girls soccer game versus St. Joseph’s, which presented a defensive challenge.
Amherst shots dried up until a penalty kick by Ally Perkins with 13:11 remaining broke the scoreless match open on the way to a 4-0 non-conference win.
Just over two minutes later, Perkins made a perfect pass to Bailee Pihlblad who drove in for a goal against Jaguars goalkeeper Olivia Finau for 2-0 halftime lead. Finau had three saves in the first period.
Defensively, Amherst was formidable.
The Comets held St. Joseph’s to a single shot in the first half until just three minutes remained on the clock. The return of seasoned players, in spite of other recent injuries, is showing on the field.
“We have a few out, but the ones who have stepped into their roles have done a fantastic job. Some those injured earlier in the year are back and other injuries have occurred. Those are the ones I’m talking about; the ones who have come back have really stepped up…like Kate Anderson, who has done a fantastic job,” said coach Gary Gonzalez.
In the second half, the Jaguars raised the pressure, booting four shots on goal in the 10 minutes.
The impressive play of Amherst sophomore goalkeeper Michele Kissane, who had five saves in the second half, held the Jaguars at bay.
“She’s very aggressive. What she’s done is she has set the bar. In practice and in games you’ll see the other two (goalkeepers) following that lead. They push themselves to duplicate what she does,” Gonzalez said.
Offensively, Amherst made only four shots in the half but scored on two of them.
The first goal was a breakaway by Perkins four minutes into the period. Veronica Sakola took a shot three minutes later. This was followed by a restart kick from Perkins to Pihlblad.
Pihlblad made a headshot that foiled any attempt at a block by Finau to score the final point in the 4-0 non-conference win. Taylor Moore made the fourth and final shot on goal with seven minutes remaining.
Perkins’ position in the middle affords her fewer opportunities to score but she is instrumental in the plays and goals made by her teammates, even though she is singled out for two- or three-on-one play by most teams.
“That’s just a testament to how good she is. I think she has 10 goals. She’s always being marked, sometimes double teamed,” said Gonzalez. “What I like even more is she involves other people, like that ball she played to Bailee. Some of her passes this year have been crazy good.”
The win elevated the Lady Comets to 7-4 entering the final five games of the regular season.
Carl Sullenberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Junior Bailee Pihlblad drives the ball Monday against the Jaguars. Pihlblad scored twice in the 4-0 non-conference win over St. Joseph.