For the first time in recent memory, the North Adams girl’s soccer team defeated the Ripley Blue Jays Wednesday evening, doing so in come-from-behind fashion.
It looked early as if goals were going to come in bunches when the Lady Devils nearly scored about five minutes in when sophomore Lakyn Hupp found senior Cati Butler off a corner kick that Butler knocked near post, but was claimed by the keeper.
The chances kept coming when a minute later Ripley nearly took the lead when a left footed shot from inside the box hit the top of the crossbar, stretching North Adams sophomore keeper Maddie Shipley to her limit.
Possession stayed with Ripley for most of the first half as North Adams struggled to string together many passes and sustain any type of pressure on the Blue Jay backline and things got physical when a collision along the sideline landed North Adams junior Allison Harper a spot in the referee’s book with a yellow card about halfway through the half.
The ensuing free kick for Ripley found a striker inside the box who let a shot fly, but it went wide of the goal, sparing the North Adams defense.
At the 15:00 mark Ripley thought they finally broke down the North Adams defense when the ball was knocked away from Shipley inside the box, but it was determined Shipley had possession, disallowing the goal.
A few minutes later North Adams threatened on a long pass to Hupp who was clear of the defense with Butler right behind. Hupp took one touch too many though and the Devils failed to get a shot off as the ball went behind for a goal kick.
The dam on the North Adams defense finally broke at the 8:00 mark when a shot which rebounded off Shipley fell to a Ripley striker who slotted the chance home for the 1-0 lead and left the Devils with a familiar feeling against Ripley as the teams went into the halftime break on the same scoreline.
Butler said she felt her team had an “off day,” especially during the first half.
“I think the ball stayed in our defensive half 90 percent of the time and I think that’s why we struggled,” Butler said. “I think everyone just happened to have an off day on the same day.”
Hupp said her team stressed team communication during the break.
“We just discussed talking and calling for the ball because we were not talking at all in the first half.”
Formation and personnel changes were made to the North Adams attack during halftime and into the second half as head coach Dave D’Avignon moved his players around to formulate a better attack.
“Coach changed our positioning in the second half,” Butler said. “He moved Jordyn Kell to center middle up front and put me at half back. And he put Brooklyn Wylie on the left side as well.”
Chances seemed to be fewer in the second half as the Lady Devils failed the threaten until about nine minutes into the second half when Butler broke free and launched a shot towards goal on a hard run but the ball sailed wide, spoiling the chance.
But the equalizer came a few minutes afterwards when a cross from junior Kitasha Mesmer found Hupp about 10 yards from goal who was able to get turned around and chip the ball over the Ripley keeper with a well placed shot to tie the game at a goal apiece.
Later on in the half, Mesmer and Hupp teamed up again to score the decisive goal, only this time the roles were reversed.
Hupp received the ball on the left attacking side and put a move on her defender, causing her to stumble and fall. Once past her, Hupp put in a cross just a few yards from goal and after a collision with the goalie who couldn’t claim, Mesmer nudged the ball over the line to give her team the lead.
“I just dribbled up and realized I got too far so I went to cross back and I heard Kitasha yell ‘cross!’ so I just took it with my right foot and got it to her and got it in.”
Hupp said she simply tried to out-hustle her opponents on the field.
“I just hustled for the ball and went after the ball,” Hupp said. “I didn’t take anyone for granted. I just went through and just passed it where I needed to. I tried to dribble through people and get the ball up because our defense was struggling in the first half but we got through it.”
From there the North Adams defense stood firm as the Devils only allowed one significant chance from the Blue Jays within the final quarter-hour of the game, which Shipley saved easily, allowing the Devils to earn what some on the team called a “great” victory.
Butler and Hupp both had smiles on their faces afterwards discussing the win.
“It feels good,” Butler said. “I feel like there’s some bragging rights. Even more bragging rights with the comeback.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or email@example.com.