Oct 12, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Long removed from its early-season struggles, the Liverpool girls soccer team is more resembling the sharp all-around unit that won the Section III Class AA title a year ago.
The ultimate proof was offered Thursday night at LHS Stadium, where Ore Akinpelu’s pair of breakaway goals, combined with a superb defense, delivered a 2-0 victory over Baldwinsville.
This was the very same B’ville team that, on Sept. 18, lit up Liverpool as the Bees prevailed 5-3 on its home field, Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium. In fact, prior to this night, no one had shut out B’ville all season.
Doing so required an all-out effort to track the Bees’ star senior forward, Emma Firenze, who is headed to Syracuse University next fall to join her older sister, Jackie.
From the start, Liverpool midfielder Morgan Wright stayed right with Firenze, following her all over the field and rarely giving her any room to maneuver once she had the ball.
“Morgan did a phenomenal job,” said Liverpool head coach Kevin McGrane.
Of course, Wright didn’t operate alone on the back line. Senior co-captains Chelsea Bowers and Jennifer Higgins provided double teams on Firenze, and along with Alyssa Bittel and Leigha Allen, they clamped down on the entire B’ville front line.
By the late portion of the first half, the Warriors were attacking more, which meant seeing the quick, skillful Akinpelu and her front-line mate, Breanna Sharpe, zip past B’ville defenders and make serious runs. In the 35th minute, Akinpelu appeared to beat Bees goalie Jaclyn Hingre, but the Bees’ Jade Sergeant kicked it out before it crossed the goal line.
Then, 3:40 into the second half, Akinpelu picked up the ball near midfield and again found her way toward the net. This time, no one stopped her as Akinpelu deposited a low shot past Hingre and into the net.
That strong Liverpool defense protected the 1-0 lead, easily turning back B’ville’s rare chances, including a pair of corner kicks. Maintaining the pressure, Akinpelu forced a turnover and made another solo run, easily beating Hingre for the insurance goal with 8:51 left.
“Ore is a monster,” said McGrane. “She can single-handedly take over games.”
With this win, Liverpool gained control of its own fate for both the CNY Counties League National division race and, possibly, for the Class AA sectional tournament later this month.
This was a week full of shots at payback for the Warriors, who took care of the first part last Tuesday night by taking out Fayetteville-Manlius 3-1.
The Hornets had beaten Liverpool 2-1 back on Sept. 11. A month later, the Warriors showed F-M just how much it had improved since then, never trailing in the rematch.
Up 1-0 at halftime, the Warriors used two more goals in the second half to cancel out the Hornets’ tally from Sarah Olick-Sutphen.
More importantly, it was a balanced effort. Ore Akinpelu picked up a goal and assist, while Emma Geyer and Alyssa Bittel also scored. Alexis Kline and Breanna Sharpe each earned one assist as, in goal, Rebecca Phillips-Allen recorded six saves.