There’s little doubt that the Lauralton Hall and the Masuk High soccer teams could meet again before their respective South-West Conference seasons are over.
And, when they do, Crusaders’ coach Peter Trenchard will need perhaps a different early-game strategy to better counter the Panthers’ over-all soccer size and physicality.
Masuk used a pair of first-half goals and its better striking power for a hold-on 3-2 win over Lauralton Hall on Monday in Monroe.
The Crusaders (6-1-2) suffered their first loss of the season, while Masuk extended its winning streak to five and improved to 8-1-1.
“They definitely caught us off-guard with their aggressive play early on,” Trenchard said. “We didn’t play our best in the beginning, and before you knew it we were in a 2-0 hole and found ourselves trying to dig out of it.”
Goals from Michelle Andrzejewski and Jaime Madden gave Masuk that 2-0 lead, all within the first 22 minutes of play.
Andrzejewski found a ball in the middle about 25 yards out when a mix-up occurred within the Crusaders’ defensive zone. She drilled a high shot, which got in just under the cross bar and the reach of Lauralton Hall keeper Emma McCarthy (five saves).
“One of their players didn’t clear the ball well and I was able to get that shot off,” Andrzejewski said.
“It was crucial for us to play well early today. We knew how good they were and being undefeated we also knew that they could score goals.”
Madden converted off of a Raine Osterle free kick from the 40-yard line. Osterle’s leg strength on the kick put the ball in a perfect position.
“We work these kids hard and keep them in good shape,” Masuk coach Eleanor Brainard said. “It was important that we got off in the right way against them. You saw how they came right back in the second half. They were unfazed about how we played early on.”
Down 2-0 and without a shot on goal, Lauralton Hall made it a 2-1 game with just under two minutes remaining in the half on Alyssa Fratarcangeli’s penalty kick after one of the Crusaders’ attackers was pulled down in the box.
Fratarcangeli beat Masuk keeper Megan Fitzgerald on a low shot to the keepers’ left side.
Masuk wound up with 10 first-half shots, while the Crusaders’ only attempt came on the penalty kick. Four of McCarthy’s turn backs came in the opening 40 minutes of play.
Once they re-grouped, the Crusaders, led on defense by Deidre Eason, Emma Dunleavy and Maggie Salandra, and in the midfield by Suzanne Lema, Ally Miles, Morgan Quinn, Jessica Recce and Lorin Pucel, played an entirely different game.
The Crusaders were able to find space and open-up play for their attackers, Fratarcangeli and Sarah Hasselkamp.
But a big goal, the second of the game by Andrzejewski at the five-minute mark, gave Masuk a 3-1 lead and enough of a cushion to hold off the Crusaders.
After that, the game belonged to the Crusaders, who pulled back to within one on a goal by Haselkamp off of an indirect kick a little over 13 minutes into the second half
In all, Lauralton Hall had seven shots late in the game.
“I thought once we settled down, we were able to counter their physical play quite well,” Trenchard said. “Overall, however, we were tiny compared to them.”