Kristelle Yewah and Rachel Dersch each scored a goal to rally Okemos to a 2-1 win over Williamston in a non-league matchup of two of the top girls soccer teams in the mid-Michigan area on Wednesday night.
“Playing an area rival like Williamston is a very motivating way to get into the season, but it could have gone either way,” Okemos coach Brian Guggemos said. “I thought we looked better today than we did before spring break, but we’re still figuring it out.”
Williamston coach Jim Flore agreed.
“I thought it was a really good game, and that these teams were very evenly matched,” he said. “They have a number of very talented players including Yewah and (Ashton) Miller, but I really thought we were with them for the whole game.”
The Chiefs dominated ball possession in the first half, but struggled to execute at the goal.
Only seven minutes into the first half, Williamston junior Michelle Smith scored the Hornets’ only goal on a fast break.
“The Williamston team split our defenders, and used the opportunity that they had,” Guggemos said. “I thought we played well in that first half, but they scored early.”
After missing two close shots on goal, the Okemos’ Yewah tied the score at 1-1 with 15 minutes left in the first half.
While offensive possession evened out in the second half, the Hornets were unable to break down Okemos’ tough defensive pressure to score another goal.
“I was happy with our defense tonight,” Guggemos said. “Especially with some of our newcomers, like Lydia Whitbeck. I think they stepped up.”
Okemos threw the ball in from the corner into a mix of Chiefs players and Williamston defenders that included Hornet keeper Grace Kraft, gathered at the net halfway through the second half. Okemos’ Dersch persistently pushed the ball through Kraft for the Chiefs’ second goal.
Okemos totaled four shots on goal for the night, while Williamston finished with two.
High winds and cold temperatures were an issue for both teams during the game, which was postponed from Tuesday due to even poorer weather.
“When we switched goals at the half, things got better for us offensively because we had the wind at our back,” Flore said. “It was tough to go up against that at first.”
“Weather is impacting everybody,” Guggemos said. “We had a classroom session yesterday because it was too cold to be outside. It’s tough to really get the momentum going with that. But we’re all in the same situation.”