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Eisenhower girls pick up big region win over Cambridge Springs

Eisenhower girls pick up big region win over Cambridge Springs

The Eisenhower girls soccer team picked up critical early season win Tuesday.

The Knights hosted Region 3 foe Cambridge Springs and came away with a 2-0 victory. Eisenhower moved into a tie atop the region with Iroquois and knocked the Blue Devils from the ranks of region unbeatens.

The shutout victory didn’t come easy for the Knights (5-1-1 overall, 2-0 Region 3) as the Blue Devils (2-2, 2-1) applied heavy pressure in the second half and forced the defense to make big plays to keep them off the board.

“We expected this to be a tough game,” Eisenhower coach Diana Elmquist said. “They were faster to the ball and we did an OK job defensively. We were able to keep the ball out of the back of the net and that’s the important thing.”

The early going was almost all Eisenhower. The Knights controlled possession through most of the first half and were able to capitalize on that pressure midway through the period.

Eisenhower keeper Faith Johnson grabs the ball just before Cambridge Springs’ Ella Nicholson can get her foot on it during the second half of their match at Eisenhower High School, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Johnson made a number of superb saves as the Knights shutout the Blue Devils, 2-0.

With the ball in front, several Knights tried to get a shot off, but couldn’t get the ball past the Devils defense. The ball found its way to the foot of Leah Peterson who got off a chip shot that got past keeper Maddie Yanc.

“I was proud of our movement and we had good passes,” Elmquist said.

Cambridge Springs nearly got the equalizer with just under 10 minutes to go in the half. Maggie Braymer slipped past the defense and raced down the middle on a breakaway. She tried to go top shelf with the shot, but it rang off the crossbar and bounced out of the box to keep it a 1-0 Eisenhower lead at the half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Cambridge Springs tested Eisenhower keeper Faith Johnson. Braymer had the ball in front and got a shot away to the left corner. Johnson dove and just got her hands on the ball to push it off the post. On the ensuing throw-in, Johnson was able to dive on the ball as it was rolling to the goal line and just before the Devils were able to get a foot on it.

Two minutes later, Cassie Smelko had a chance in front off a throw-in but put the ball high over the crossbar. The goal kick found its way to Braymer who again went zipping down the middle of the field. This time, Rachel Frederick was there to match her step-for-step. Frederick ran Braymer off the ball and Johnson fell on it to maintain the shutout.

Eisenhower's Rachel Frederick had another strong defensive game on Tuesday.

“Rachel has always been fast,” Elmquist said. “But her speed has come on stronger this year. She’s been key in clutch moments for us.”

A hand ball just outside the box gave Eisenhower a prime opportunity to extend the lead and the Knights capitalized. Caroline Smelko took the kick and buried it short side to make it 2-0 with just under 20 minutes to play.

The Devils amped up the pressure, but were unable to get many quality chances until just under two minutes to go. Braymer got loose on a break for the third time, but Frederick ran her down again and kept her from getting a shot off.

“We made an adjustment and matched them speed-for-speed,” Elmquist said. “If we don’t make that adjustment, the game could have gone a different way.”

The Knights travel to Seneca Thursday for another Region 3 match.

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