Lineberry lifts Argos past Plymouth

PLYMOUTH — After a life-changing car accident last April, Argos girls soccer coach Jon Alcorn noticed Mariah Lineberry was struggling on the field.
The Lady Dragons coach decided to give her the start in their rivalry match at Plymouth Thursday in the hopes of restoring some of her former confidence, and his sophomore midfielder rewarded him with the game-winner.
Lineberry snuck a goal just inside the near post off a Kaitlyn Williams pass in the 43rd minute, and Argos hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Lady Rockies at Kindt Field Thursday night.
It was a strong return to form for the sophomore, who suffered a concussion in a rollover with friends Sean Mullaney and Courtney DeMont back on April 18, an accident that sidelined Lineberry through the spring softball season and left DeMont in a coma for several weeks. After Lineberry’s goal Thursday, a roar went up from the Argos sideline.
“Coming back from the accident she’s been asking ‘What do I do, what do I do?’ and I said ‘Just play naturally; don’t worry about what you forgot.’ She was awesome tonight. She looked strong,” said Alcorn of Lineberry. “She just has kind of been trying to find herself, so I started her just to give her a boost of confidence, but from the whistle, man, she just was active, she was moving. I was impressed by that.
“That was a big emotional boost for the team. That’s what they were really cheering about was her.”
While Argos laughed last, Plymouth drew first blood at Thursday’s match.
Senior forward Courtney Hersick caught the Dragons defense off guard just over a minute into the match when she won a 50-50 ball outside the Argos 18 and dribbled in close, driving a shot into the near upper 90 to stake her team to an initial 1-0 advantage.
That lead didn’t last long, however, as Kennedy Binkley scored the equalizer on a long chip in the 17th minute while Plymouth goalkeeper Katie Berg scrambled back into the goal mouth recovering after an earlier scrum in the Rockies box to bring the score to 1-all.
“It was a good way to start, but I think it gave us false confidence to be quite honest,” said Plymouth head coach Chuck DeWitt of Hersick’s goal in the second minute. “We scored early last year on them, we had two goals within I think the first two minutes last year, and I think it gave us false confidence and we didn’t play with the intensity after that that I thought we should. We should’ve continued with that. We had a keeper error that put their goal in. I just thought we didn’t get to the ball fast enough to pressure their back side, and we gave them too many opportunities.”
The home team scored again roughly five minutes after Binkley’s game-tier, and Hersick was again in on the play as Allie Wright volleyed in Hersick’s free kick from around 25 yards out to give Plymouth the lead once more at 2-1.
“That’s a good combination when we have a free kick and Courtney has the ball. If I could take that every day, all day, I would,” said DeWitt. “She put it right on Allie’s head; Allie knew right where to be, and it was a beautiful play. We tried that later on, and we didn’t have the same success.”
Argos again erased the deficit in the 33rd minute when Shelby Sanders found Valerie Rospopo inside the Plymouth penalty box, and Sanders finished it off to knot the teams at 2-2 headed into halftime.
“One of the thing that we’ve really tried to impress on our team is we talk about mistakes as opportunities to learn,” Alcorn said. “With a girls team, the social interaction is such that you really have to make it safe for them to fail, and we’ve just stressed the last couple years that I don’t care if we’re down 3-0, we’re going to try to score a goal at the end. They kind of have that mentality, and I don’t know what they’re all thinking inside… but they’ve been pretty resilient.”
After such a flurry of offense in the first half, Lineberry’s goal shortly after the intermission proved to be the lone score of the second half, giving Argos its first win of the year after a tough 2-0 loss to Kankakee Valley in the team’s season-opener Tuesday.
“I really didn’t (think that goal would hold up); I was thinking maybe 4-3,” said Alcorn. “When it’s that quick into the second half, a one-goal lead, I just don’t let myself think that because it kills you for the rest of the game. Plus, the other thing that happens is if I’m thinking that or the kids are thinking that then they change the way they play. The only time that we really stopped trying to be possession aggressive was maybe the last two minutes… because we knew Plymouth’s most dangerous attack was going to be the long ball.”
Argos seemed to hold a slight possession advantage in the back-and-forth contest, registering 12 shots on goal to Plymouth’s 10 — Berg recorded nine saves in goal, and Argos keeper Jenni Fishburn finished with eight — and tallying five corner kicks to just two by the Rockies, both in the second half.
After the game, DeWitt attributed part of the difference to what he saw as the predictability of his team’s attack and said he’d like to see his offense spread the field more going forward into the rest of the season.
“This isn’t the way that we want to play so we’ve got to go back and do some rebuilding. We’ll look at some things a little bit closer,” said the Plymouth boss. “We only play to one side, and when you only play to one side it narrows the field and gives the defensive team the advantage. We need to keep spreading the field wide. In the first half… it was down the right side all the time and the left side players were open. In the second half… it seemed like all we wanted to do was play the ball to Allie on the left side and see what she could do with it. We can’t do that.”
While Argos moved to 1-1 on the young season, Plymouth opened at 0-1. The Dragons continue their road schedule with a game at Elkhart Christian Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Rockies will continue to look for their first win at home Saturday versus Logansport at 11 a.m.
At Plymouth
First half
P — Courtney Hersick, 2nd minute
A — Kennedy Binkley, 17th minute
P — Allie Wright (Hersick free kick), 23rd minute
A — Valerie Rospopo (Shelby Sanders), 33rd minute
Second half
A — Mariah Lineberry (Kaitlyn Williams), 43rd minute
Shots on goal: Plymouth 10, Argos 12
Saves: Katie Berg (Plymouth) 9, Jenni Fishburn (Argos) 8
Corner kicks: Plymouth 2, Argos 5.
Records: Plymouth 0-1, Argos 1-1.
JV score: Plymouth 3, South Bend Adams 3