Having two of her team’s first three matches end in ties, Cardinal Gibbons’ soccer coach Michele Miller knew better than to allow her Crusaders to get comfortable despite a halftime lead.
She preached defensive intensity during the break and her team followed suit, bending but not breaking on defense and coming away with a 2-0 win over Ravenscroft on the road.
“I think we picked up the intensity a little bit,” Miller said. “In the beginning, we weren’t really running at defenders. We were making it easier for them to get the ball out. We settled down and got our attackers actually running at them. I think that was the big difference.”
Newcomer Stephany Michalak scored the lone goal in the first half, giving Cardinal Gibbons a 1-0 lead at halftime.
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Both teams missed several scoring chances on shots from pointblank range in the second half. Miller admitted that was something that she and her team need to work on.
“That’s where we’re very young and naïve,” Miller said. “We really have to take our chances because it can come back and haunt you against a team like Ravenscroft. We definitely need to get better in that area.”
The difference between the two teams was Cardinal Gibbons managed to recover and put the match away when the Crusaders scored the insurance goal with in the 70th minute in the second half.
Miller pointed to that goal as a moment in which her team realized their potential.
“We played the ball quickly with pace and purpose, connected a bunch of passes and were able to get them into a one-on-one,” she said.
Miller hopes creating such opportunities and capitalizing on them will be key to a successful season for her young Crusaders (2-0).
“We’ve got the right players,” Miller said. “We’ve just got to get them in the right position.”
The loss was the first of the year for Ravenscroft, as the Ravens (2-2) were playing their third match in four days.
Coach J.J. Raabe said that fatigue may have played a part in her team’s inability to put points on the scoreboard.
“I think that if we were to play this game later in the year, it would be a different story,” Raabe said. “We’re going on as string of five games in seven days, so the reality is we’re not in game shape yet.”
Still, Raabe admitted the grind of the early season could have a positive outcome for her team as the year progresses.
“One of the biggest things that is hurting us is not being in game shape and the way to get into game shape is to play games,” she said. “We’re well on our way.”