As her team trailed at halftime by a goal to a tough team from James M. Bennett, Stephen Decatur girls soccer coach Maggie Berke knew her players needed a little motivation at halftime and needed to be reminded about how good they really are.
“I told them that they weren’t playing badly, but they weren’t playing as the team that I’ve seen these past couple of weeks,” Berke said. “I told them, ‘You need to get back out there and be the team that you are,’ and that’s what they did.”
The Seahawks came out and scored two goals within the first 18 minutes of the second half, propelling them to a 3-1 road victory over the Clippers (4-1) on Tuesday and solidifying themselves as one of the top teams in the Bayside Conference, joining Parkside as the only undefeated teams.
The first of the two Decatur goals was scored by Lexie VanKirk in the 54th minute.
After receiving a pass from Jillian Petito on the right side of the box, VanKirk drew Bennett’s keeper, Breanne Hall, off of her line and fired a shot across her body that landed in the far side of the net for the equalizer.
Minutes later, Decatur (6-0) found the back of the net again on a controversial sequence when a shot from a Decatur player landed in the arms of Hall, but soon landed at the feet of a handful of Seahawks players. Decatur’s Rachel Bourne was credited with a goal after the ball ended up in the back of the net, but in the process, Bennett coaches, fans and players claimed that Hall was illegally dispossessed and that she was kicked while on the ground.
The referee claimed that he didn’t see the play, but he did see Clippers head coach Ed O’Leary’s sideline tirade and assessed him a yellow card in the 58th minute after the two exchanged words.
“You have to walk away from some things, you’re not going to agree with everything,” O’Leary said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes, but that’s not the reason we lost; we lost because they put three goals in and we put in one.”
Bennett’s lone goal of the game came from junior forward Brittany Boardman in the 12th minute.
After a shot from Allie O’Leary was deflected, Boardman headed the rebound into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
The Seahawks added their third goal in the 73rd minute when Mallory Vara played a through ball to Brigitte Ardis from inside the penalty box.
The Seahawks had eight corner kicks and two short free kicks in the match, but no goals came of it.
Instead, Decatur scored their goals by fighting hard in the box and with key passes on counter attacks like Ardis’ goal.
“We’ve always been a counter attack type of team; the girls have always just found a way to work it up the field,” Berke said. “The offense looked good today, but we need to learn how to capitalize on corner kicks and set pieces too.”
Decatur will take the field again Thursday when they face Snow Hill.