Girls soccer: Law's Wirth earns decisive goal in Foran match

Jonathan Law’s Jocelyn Wirth charged in from the weak-side wing to pounce on a free ball and follow it her goal into the net to score the lone goal when the Lady Lawmen defeated Foran High in an SCC girls soccer match on Wednesday.

Wirth’s game-winner was set up by a quick passing sequence. Grace Wootton slotted a pass to Wirth, who one-timed the ball to Samara Thacker at the top of the box.

A Lion defender was on the spot and the tight marking resulted in the ball kicking to the left.

Wirth had never stopped to watch and was rewarded for her hustle with a wide-open look with 23:07 remaining in the second half. Lion keeper Emily Wheaton never had a chance to reverse course.

Law improved to 2-1-4; Foran is 2-5-1.

“This is probably the first game we started with intensity and held it throughout,” Law coach JD Rhode said. “It was one thing we were looking to improve on. It was an even match all game. Foran put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the second half. It was dangerous to the end.”

Law keeper Jillian Hall made a diving stop on a Courtney Musante shot with 1:35 left on the clock.

With the game scoreless six minutes into the second session, Musante finished off a long-stretch of activity in the Law 30 when she took a pass from Sara Portoff and rocketed a shot that Hall knocked wide with her right hand.

Law’s Andriana Bruno cleared the subsequent corner opportunity.

“Courtney had a nice shot at the upper 90 and the low post,” Lion coach Casey Blake said of her freshman striker. “She had some really good shots. We need more of those from the rest of the girls, but I’m proud of their effort.”

The meeting between city rivals was a pitched battle throughout.

Law’s midfield of Wootton, Ashley Shaw, Shelby Green and Bruno looked to free up Thacker and Wirth by playing the ball forward to their feet.

Tasked with winning those 50-50 balls and countering were the Lions’ Emma Lucas, Rylee Tondora, Anna Lee Melton and Georgia Malesky.

Musante, Yasmine Lingane and the versatile Ariana Montero were on the attack.

Abigail Bernstein headlined Law’s back line of C.C. Lopes, Ashley Regina, Skylar Sosa and Michelle Montes.

The Lions’ Gabriella Muoio was key the Lions’ back four of Amanda Schuld, Maxine Lynch and Portoff.

Rhode and Blake went to their deep benches often.

Law turned to Isabella Renz and Makayla Mai.

Foran received stellar play from Mya Wheeler, Tessa Malesky, Isabel Morales, Eleanor Noyes and Anna Byers.

Thacker provided the first threat six minutes in when the senior powered a shot toward the near post, which Wheaton knocked wide. Off the corner, Thacker’s chip missed.

Law kept looking to find a weakness, but Muoio took away the boundary, Portoff and company marked tightly, and Wheaton (8 saves) on four occasions came off the line quickly to get to through balls.

Hall (7 saves), meanwhile, stopped a shot by Montero that came off a pass from Georgia Malesky to Byers.

A Portoff-to-Lingane connection led to a cross for Georgia Malesky, but the active Wootton was there to send the centering pass wide.

Foran threatened for better than a minute in the closing stages of the first half.

Law defended until the Lions received a free kick with 2:21 left in the session.

Portoff sent a pooch kick over a four-player wall that was just wide of the far post.

Law countered with Wootton, Wirth and Sosa connecting on passes before Wheaton corralled a roller on frame.

The second half was as faced paced as the scoring chances that followed.

Green opened with a salvo that was stopped at 38:36 and Musante’s shot was blocked by Lopes, who then cleared the ball.

Hall next stopped Musante’s targeted blast to keep things level.

Ten minutes in, Sosa deflected a Lingane shot from in close and won the chase for the loose ball and sent it to forward.

Wirth’s pass and hustle-play goal followed.

“We’re trying to make sure that, second halves, we come out as strong if not stronger than the first,” Blake said. “I thought we did that. We played really well. We won balls. It’s unfortunate that we played as well as we did, but come up on the losing end.”

Rhode likes the direction his team is headed.

“We’re playing a different scheme (based on players) and we’re progressing,” he said. “We’re looking for the right balanced. We were primarily three back (on defense) and this season we started four back. Tonight, we mixed it up. We are tactically more flexible.”