Lexy Blunk became a one-woman wrecking crew, providing the Lady Warriors with more than enough oomph in a four-goal barrage as Wawasee bested Whitko, 5-3, in the first-ever soccer matchup between the two schools.
Blunk’s first goal broke a string of 166 scoreless minutes going back to the Aug. 21 match against Manchester, finding the back of the net in the eighth minute. Four minutes later, Blunk scored on a similar goal that had her dribble through a disorganized Whitko defense and fire the ball past a helpless Chloe Nestel in net.
Whitko, however, grew tired of watching Blunk do all the work and orchestrated its own attack just a minute later. A flipping throw in from Cagney Craig bounced in front of the net where Mikayla Findley clipped it into the unattended corner.
Whitko leveled just four minutes later when Ellyanna Blue took a shot that Wawasee keeper Nicole Streby couldn’t handle.
But Blunk answered a minute before the half, taking a loose ball in the Whitko defensive third and tapping past substitute goalkeeper Jordan Hall, who replaced Nestel in the 18th minute after Nestel and Blunk collided chasing a loose ball. Nestel would leave the game with an injured left knee and not return.
The gem of the four goals, however, came in the 69th minute when Blunk teed up a 35-yard free kick and sent the left-footed missile to the right post. Instead of finding a teammates head, she found the post and her fourth goal, which capped a career-high for goals in a game by Blunk and the most goals scored by a Lady Warrior since Mallory Rondeau netted four against Memorial on Sept. 26, 2011.
“The first two, I just happened to be in the right spot, but my teammates helped me out,” Lexy Blunk said. “I was looking top corner on the free kick but I was actually looking for an outside person for a header and it just happened to bank in. I was really shocked, actually.”
Both teams traded goals in the final minute, with Craig sending a ball into the Wawasee box that Blue tucked away. McKenzie Schmitt, however, ended the suspense with her first career goal in the waning seconds.
“They got the two goals really quick,” Wawasee coach John Blunk stated. “I didn’t think we should have given up those kinds of goals. Cagney did a really good job of getting the ball in there and we didn’t get the ball out. That’s been our Achilles Heel all year, not getting the ball out when its a corner kick or whatever. That’s what we have got to work on.”
Whitko drops to 2-4-1 with the loss, but will take the experience playing possibly its biggest name regular season opponent in the two years Whitko has been an IHSAA sanctioned program.
“That is how I am viewing this game, the older girls realized who we just played,” said Whitko head coach Gary Sims on taking on Wawasee. “We are looking forward to a couple of our the schools on our schedule that we have never seen before.
“I know it looks chaotic right now, but the team is really starting to gel. If you look at tonight compared to our first game, it’s a big turnaround. We’re very fortunate to play a team that has seen just about everything. Last year, we didn’t see a team like this all year until the regional, when Fort Wayne Concordia just overwhelmed us.”
Wawasee (3-4-1 overall) outshot Whitko 20-8 in the contest, with Blunk recording seven of those attempts on net. Nestel made three saves while Hall, in her first-ever appearance in net, made 10 stops. Streby had three saves for the Lady Warriors.
Coach Blunk was more than happy to see his team put consistent pressure on an opponent after the offensive hiatus of late.
“We really needed a win, and really needed to play good,” coach Blunk said. “We got some shots on goal and worked on what happened at Goshen where they spread the ball around. We worked on moving the ball up the field. Different girls were able to get some shots, and that’s a good thing.”