Nearly three weeks after lightning and strong storms forced the postponement of the girls’ soccer match between the Ripley Blue Jays and the Peebles Indians, the teams returned to the pitch to finish what they started.
The game started with just over 20 minutes remaining in the first half and the Lady Jays up 1-0. The teams remained scoreless throughout the half, and Peebles head coach Gus Denzik said his team’s lack of communication was the problem.
“This team in practice and in different places will talk your ear off,” Denzik said. “But if you put them on the field during a game, they go as silent as a churchmouse. It absolutely drives me crazy. At halftime, our whole halftime speech to the team was ‘start talking.’ The few times they talk, magic happens.”
The Lady Jays were quiet throughout the first half as well, but their communication improved in the second half and so did their offense. The team got a pair of goals in the second half, the first of which came with just under 19 minutes left in the half. Bailey Adams struck on a free kick for the Lady Jays to put the team ahead by two.
Nine minutes later, as kick from a Peebles midfielder struck Lady Jay Kristen Abbott in the head. Abbott walked off the field and would eventually return to the game. However, thirty seconds after her injury, her teammates added another goal. Alexandra Carrizalez made a run toward the goal, drawing the goalie out before flicking the ball to teammate Madisyn Blackburn, who put the ball in for the goal. Ripley would win the game 3-0.
Denzik said his defense was a work-in-progress but he can tell the team is improving defensively and will look much better at the end of the season.
“Our defense has been coming along all season,” Denzik said. “We were supposed to have a bunch of juniors come up this year. But with girls moving, getting jobs and doing different things we had to reorganize the whole team. The girl who’s playing center-back didn’t play last year, but she’s really coming along. That person has to coach. Typically the center-back moves people around and tells every what to do and she’s finally starting to understand that enough to make on-field commands and make things happen. We made a few errors and they cost us goals, but I feel we’re better now and we’re going to grow quite a bit. We’re going to be a different team six to eight games from now.”
Offensively, the team is young. Denzik noted it is hard for freshman to compete with upperclassman on the front lines.
“In trying to develop a soccer team you build from the defense forward,” Denzik said. “At the risk of scoring goals, you don’t want the other team to score goals. You can win a game 1-0. In trying to make sure our defense is solidified we have neglected our offense. We’re really looking for someone to be aggressive and find the net better. We’ve got a couple who are trying, but they are freshman and sophomores and they’re going up against juniors and seniors.”
The Lady Indians return to action Monday afternoon at home against North Adams. The games will start at 4:30.