SYRACUSE – The 2-0 girls soccer win by Whitko Wednesday night at Wawasee wasn’t a knock down, drag ’em out contest that will go down in the annals of history for memorable moments, per se. But the win by Whitko was an historic one, nonetheless.
For the first time in the program’s abbreviated but ascending three-year history, Whitko beat Wawasee. Albeit the matchup Wednesday night at Warrior Field was just the second meeting between the two clubs, but for Lady Wildcat head coach Gary Sims, a win is a win.
“We have the most players Whitko has ever had, and a win like tonight will help,” Sims said, pointing out a host of the roster, however, lack varsity-level experience. “Most of them think like freshman because they haven’t played before. So to see some of the good steps we took tonight was nice. We’re about to the midseason point, but we are still working some basic stuff.”
Whitko, already playing without midfielder Sydney Sims, out of the year with a knee injury, and dressing several that are nursing some sort of ailment, getting through the 80 minutes against a very game Wawasee side was a blessing. Also having goalkeeper Jordan Hall playing with an injury, which was noticeable on several saves, it was a wonder how Whitko managed.
Hall, however, was the hero for her club, making a great read on a penalty kick by Zoe Abrams in the 70th minute that allowed Whitko to cling to a 1-0 lead. Hall, who limped away from her line after most of her 12 saves, watched in relief as Ellyana Blue hammered home a penalty kick in the 76th minute to salt the game away.
Blue, a thorn in Wawasee’s side all evening, had four shots on target of the seven Whitko would fire on Wawasee keeper Priscilla Par. The lone mistake Par would make would be allowing a Whitko free kick from outside the right 18 to somehow scoot under her frame and across the goal mouth, allowing Kaitlin Whitaker to clean up the mess in the 30th minute.
“We saw that tonight, they had two or three people on Ellyana tonight and that’s something we are going to have to get used to,” Sims said. “We are used to standing around and watching her, and we need to step up and get involved. Don’t watch, go to the ball, because she can’t do it herself. But with some of the kids we have injured, it’s going to be tough for her as teams start tracking her.”
Wawasee looked the fresher group, and made Hall work extra hard in the first 25 minutes, ripping five of its 12 shots, one that ricocheted off Hall’s hands before the senior could safely recollect it. The Lady Warrior duo of Brooklyn McCulloch and Sarah Lancaster peppered the net, each uncorking three shots on target. But Wednesday’s result, the sixth consecutive match Wawasee has gone without a goal, was a positive trend according to head coach Doug Heinisch.
“We didn’t play that bad, overall I thought our play was decent,” Heinisch began. “It was just two poor plays on our part, and to their credit, they capitalized on them. We are pretty disappointed, actually. We played well enough to win, but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities, and that’s the difference tonight.
“We thought we played well enough to win. We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”
Whitko moves to 4-3-1 with the win and will take on Woodlan Saturday morning. Wawasee falls to 0-8 and will host Culver Academy this Saturday afternoon.
The junior varsity contest began at dusk and ended after sundown. The abbreviated match had Wawasee’s LeighAnn Shrack pot both goals for the home team in a 2-1 win.