Slow Start

3-0 first half dooms Eisenhower in loss to Cambridge Springs

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Eisenhower’s Cassie Smelko dribbles past Cambridge Springs’ Finley Rauscher during the first half of Monday’s District 10 Region 3 girls soccer game in Russell.

RUSSELL — Eisenhower’s girls soccer team has been stunted by slow starts many times early in this young season.

It happened again Monday.

Cambridge Springs scored twice in the opening 15 minutes and hung on down the stretch for a 3-1 District 10 Region 3 girls soccer victory.

“We were just slow to start,” Eisenhower head coach Diana Elmquist said. “It’s something that we’ve been working on. … They’re going to get there.”

The Blue Devils, shorthanded due to injuries, took advantage of their early energy and the wind to jump ahead.

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman The Knights’ Lily Mueller (2) attempts to head a cross past Cambridge Springs goalkeeper Maddie Yanc.

“That was key because we are hurting. We have multiple players who are trying to come back from knee surgeries and knee injuries who aren’t cleared for full play yet,” Cambridge Springs head coach Geoff Bristow said. “As you could see, late in the second half we were really starting to die. They were really putting pressure on us. We had to take advantage early.”

Less than 10 minutes in, sophomore Mackenzie Yanc took a pass from junior Paisley Mangold at the top of the 18-yard box, cut to her left, then shot across the grain with her left foot into the bottom far corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“She was a scorer for them last year and she has a lot of speed,” Elmquist said of Yanc. “She can definitely match our backfield speed stride for stride. We’ve been working really hard on holding our line and I think we just need to get off that line a little quicker.”

About four minutes later, Yanc took another pass from freshman defender Nola Zook in the top left corner of the 18-yard box and shot into the short side of the net for a 2-0 lead.

“The shots were just perfectly placed,” Bristow said.

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Eisenhower’s Katie Bunk settles a ball in front of the Knights’ net during Monday’s District 10 Region 3 girls soccer game against Cambridge Springs in Russell.

Eisenhower evened out play from there, but a foul with eight minutes remaining in the first half gave Cambridge Springs a free kick.

Zook was tasked with the attempt and her drive was a little too strong for Eisenhower’s goalkeeper to handle, deflecting off her hands into the goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Knights began to carry the play after halftime, taking advantage of Cambridge Springs’ lack of depth with players out of the lineup.

“We weren’t quick to the ball. We were letting them possess it too much,” Elmquist said of the first half. “It wasn’t until the second half that we started actually taking that easy possession away from them.”

Blue Devils sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Yanc turned aside every Eisenhower try until there was just 4:17 showing on the clock when sophomore Cassie Smelko dished a pass to senior Leah Peterson, who converted to break up the shutout and make it 3-1.

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Eisenhower’s Elley Eastman looks to make a play.

“It was a well-deserved goal. They worked the ball down several times,” Bristow said. “It’s a well-coached team and they know what they’re doing.”

The Knights continued to push down the stretch, but were unable to beat Yanc or the Cambridge Springs defense again.

“That’s a good team over there. They have some really quality players,” Bristow said of Eisenhower. “We knew this was going to be a battle here. It always is.”

Senior Kayla Greene was credited with 12 saves in net for Eisenhower while Yanc made eight saves for the Blue Devils.

“We play a zone back four. We always try to prevent people from getting behind us,” Bristow said. “We know they have some really good strikers on that team. It’s all about shape and position. We held it for the most part.”

Eisenhower returns to action Wednesday at home against Conneaut.

“We’ve been working through that slow-start scenario for a while,” Elmquist said. “I have a workhorse team. I think they are going to be good. It’s still early in the season.”


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