DEWITT – The first order of business for Lexi McPherson each time she steps onto the pitch is to stop the opposing team from scoring.
But after the loss of junior midfielder and second leading goal scorer Olivia Trombley, who is sidelined after a violation of Michigan High School Athletic Association rules, St. Johns girls soccer coach Kim Brewbaker has looked to his center back for an offensive spark during the district tournament.
The senior delivered Thursday night.
McPherson scored a goal and tallied two assists as the Redwings shut out East Lansing, 4-0, in a Division 2 district semifinal game at DeWitt High School.
“In this game, I was trying to fill Olivia’s spot,” said McPherson, who’s been transitioning between the defense and the midfield more frequently in recent games. “Nobody ever said it to me, but I just kinda know. I have to do it for the team. It’s a team thing.”
After both teams played to a stalemate in the first 40 minutes, McPherson ignited a second-half scoring spree for the Redwings (15-5) when a Taylor Warnaar free kick found her right in front of the net less than four minutes into the half. McPherson notched her first assist nearly 20 minutes later when she found junior forward Chelsie Smith, who was able to put home a deep shot with Trojan goalie Madeline Chomentowski out of position.
“We needed something to get us going,” McPherson said of her goal.
In the game’s final 10 minutes, it was the Jasmine Barratt show. The senior scored her first goal with 8:48 remaining to give St. Johns a 3-0 lead and recorded an Abbey Schuelke-assisted goal with 1:24 to play.
“We need to improve a little, but it’s (losing Trombley) nothing that hurts our team. We work as a team,” Barratt said. “Losing a player is a big deal, but we can’t look at it as something that hurts us. We need to look at it as something to improve on and we need to come out and be stronger and prove to other teams that one player doesn’t make our whole team.”
For the Trojans (8-10-1), who tied for second in the CAAC Blue, the year ends with their third loss to the Redwings.
East Lansing’s most threatening scoring chance came with seven seconds remaining in the first half when Sara Faverman’s free kick attempt hit an open Kai Dotson in the 18-yard box, but the junior’s shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Coach Jeff Lyon said continuity has been an issue for his side, specifically in the attacking third, not only this year, but for the past couple of seasons.
“The hardest part about high school soccer, regardless of what team you are, is trying to find that continuity,” said Lyon, whose team has suffered injuries to key players this year and recent ones. “When you have has many injuries as we’ve dealt with … it’s a progression.
“We don’t have a deep team, so when you’re missing pieces of the puzzle like that it can cause some disruption to the continuity.”
Kylie Steingreaber recorded the shutout in net for St. Johns.
The Redwings will face conference foe and No. 1-ranked DeWitt on Saturday for the district championship.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.