PLYMOUTH — After a pair of tough losses to Northern Lakes Conference powers Goshen and Northridge, Plymouth’s girls soccer team needed a win before resuming conference play this weekend.
They got two.
Allie Wright scored the go-ahead on a Nicole Burdine assist in the 72nd minute, and Plymouth held on for its second win in two days, a 2-1 decision over visiting LaVille at home at Kindt Field.
It was the Rockies’ second straight home victory after a lopsided 9-0 rout of John Glenn Monday.
“It definitely is a confidence-builder for us,” said Plymouth girls soccer coach Chuck DeWitt. “We took two tough losses to Goshen and Northridge, two quality teams. They’re both ranked in the state, and they’re both leading the conference. Out of the two they only had one loss between them, so we knew that was going to be tough, we just didn’t think we were going to take it as hard as we did. But to come back and to be able to get our confidence back up, get our legs up, get our heads up in knowing that we can play with whoever we come up against, that was a big thing for us.”
Courtney Hersick tallied her fifth goal in two games when she scored on a 3 v 1 inside the LaVille box in the 22nd minute to give Plymouth the initial edge.
The Rockies survived a dangerous situation in the 23rd minute when keeper Becca Houser left the goal mouth to knock down a Nina Zeiger free kick, creating a scrum around the goal. But LaVille finally broke through with just under two minutes remaining in the half as Zeiger combined with Grace Ingle for a low dribbler just inside the far post to knot the score at 1-all at the break.
“My team played really well. We’ve got a bunch missing, a bunch injured. I’m unhappy that we lost the game, but I can’t say enough for the way we played, the way we hung in there,” said LaVille head coach Steve Hodge. “A couple of players here and there, and we would’ve been fine. I’m proud as heck of my team tonight for the way they played.”
Pushing an extra forward up and pulling two midfielders out of the backfield, Plymouth controlled possession for much of the second half, and after numerous near misses — including a Kara Morwood shot that just caromed off the crossbar in the 67th minute — Burdine dribbled out wide, then turned and fed Wright in the box for the game-winner with 8:37 left to play.
“It was a nice pass,” said DeWitt. “Nicole played last night and scored her first varsity goal, and as a freshman that’s huge to get a varsity goal. But to come back in the next night and be able to put the ball right in the middle on the assist where it needed to go was spot on, one touch, and the ball’s in the net.”
Playing two games in as many days, the Rockies might have been expected to run out of gas Tuesday, but instead it was Plymouth who wore down LaVille late in the second half. DeWitt said that was the strategy behind his team’s defense-heavy formation in the first half.
“We put a different formation in when we went into it. We added two defensive midfielders back to help our back three defenders, and we only put one forward up front. Our idea was just to slow them down, wear them down on the attack and then if we could weather that first 12 to 15 minutes, I felt comfortable that we would be on the right attack,” he said. “When we came out in the second half, we put a second forward up and went to a single defensive midfielder. With just Allie as our single forward they were keying in on her and double-teaming, triple-teaming her. So we put Courtney back up; that spread the front, and when we spread the front, that also spread the middle and that helps our attack.”
Plymouth’s backfield of Bailey Brown, Emily Trump and Kirsten Riise had solid outings, and Houser finished with four saves as the Rockies held LaVille to one goal to improve to 6-3 on the season.
Kyleigh Breden finished with 10 saves in goal for the Lancers, and senior back Erika Fuchs also had a strong outing on defense in the loss, which drops LaVille to 9-3.
“Grace played her heart out. I can’t say enough about Erika Fuchs. She played her heart out; she wanted to beat Plymouth once in her career, but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” said Hodge. “She knows in her heart if we’d have had everybody out it would’ve been different, but that’s the way it runs.”
• PLYMOUTH 2, LaVILLE 1
P — Courtney Hersick, 22nd minute
LV — Grace Ingle (Nina Zeiger), 39th minute
P — Allie Wright (Nicole Burdine), 72nd minute
Shots on goal: Plymouth 11, LaVille 3
Saves: Plymouth 4 (Becca Houser), LaVille 10 (Kyleigh Breden)
Records: LaVille 9-3, Plymouth 6-3-0