It was a very different environment from the Senior Night just two days ago. It was a crisp afternoon. There was a refreshing chill in the air - no rain - clear skies / high ceilings. That kind of no limit to what could happen sky. It was a beautiful sunset on this late January evening. These were perfect conditions for our girls to face Divisional and District 10-win Kenner Discovery Health Science on their home turf at Lafrienere.
Coach Paola Tejada and Coach Alicia Humphres took the team into the biggest game of the season. In game preparation discussions, Coach Harry Mason had made it clear that this match was pivotal in any hopes to think playoffs for another day. The intensity and confidence of this group of players was clear as the sun beaming down on the pristine turf. It has been said that this team gains moxie each time out. The cup of moxie seemed to runneth over today.
Captain and birthday girl Senior McKenna Brannan went for the coin toss and cleverly took the West end of the field to defend so the sun would not be in talented Junior Keeper Jenna Hoisington’s eyes. The swagger or force of character of the Ursuline Varsity Soccer team was not to be held back. Almost immediately the team was pushing balls deep into the Kenner Discovery Owl’s penalty box. By the 11th minute generous Junior Emma Scobel turned a pass over to combustible shooter McKenna Brannan that set fire to the net putting the Lions ahead 1 - 0. The onslaught of runs on goal now sparked – we saw explosive Scobel, unrelenting 8th grader Vivian Reece, and uncompromising Freshman Nimah Baloney ramping up the pressure. Like a mute pedal that immediately cuts audio off at musical performance, Isa Suarez shut down the leading scorer for the Owls with her aggressive reactions to the ball and restarting the Lions offense from the back. Gaps in the midfield kept opening for dexterous 8th grader Lillian Wiseman who dribbled up and slotted through balls for the front line runs. In the 32’, smooth operator Emma Scobel would take another one of these through balls and find inventive Nimah Baloney on a cross right in front of the net for Ursuline’s second goal of the night. Determined Sophomore Kate Martin pressured the back line of Kenner Discovery - working to push the ball into the East end penalty area. The Owls continued to work to counter the Lions and Alina Paiz drag/pushed her dribbling techniques through the UA defense to net one in the 35’. By half time, the Lions had 15 shots / 8 shots on target, owned 58% possession, had successfully made 77 passes and had a season high 63% passing accuracy.
The Lions took the time at half to reassess what the Kenner Discovery Owls were giving them on the pitch. The State Street gang identified how to stifle further runs from the Owls. The remaining 40 minutes was a highlight reel of capable defensive play from nimble Junior Mae Ying Stock-Bordnick, shrewd Junior Keira Kelly, guileful Sophomore Isabel Lambiet, and expert 8th grader Aribelle Holley. Locking down the net was competent starter Junior Keeper Jenna Hoisington. Skilled Freshman Gracie Franks took over in net during the second half – when the Owls were most desperate to get a goal. In one of the rougher plays on the night, Gracie took a collision with a 5’6” Freshman Owl that injured Franks’ jaw. Gracie remained in the game until the final whistle to see the win come home to State Street.