EMMA – Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Both the head coaches for Lakeland Christian and Elkhart Christian spent time talking to their players in moments among Tuesday’s opening round matchup at the Westview Girls Soccer Sectional. Among the topics was the result from last Saturday, where ECA drubbed LCA 6-3.
Did the tables turn Tuesday.
LCA brought its offense and also spun a defensive gem to shut out ECA, 5-0.
LCA skipper Nat Raber reminded his team of Eagles defender Precious Swen and her ability to command the back third. How her pace and closing speed can force offenses to have to change its plan of attack, and how she displayed that last weekend. ECA frontman Joel Badskey continuously begged his team to adjust to LCA’s offensive formations and play a smart ball. Raber’s words seemed to sink in more, as LCA found Swen and went the other way, creating chaos in ECA’s comfort zone while the Eagles’ lack of care in possession gave the Cougars a lot of gifted chances.
LCA, which did sit several of its big guns in Saturday’s loss in Elkhart, saw its stars shine early and often at Westview. The Calizo sisters, Tori and Jessi, as they have done all year, created chances. Tori had a wide open look in the eighth minute that banged off both posts before keeper Peyton Badskey could haul it in. Tori again found herself in prime position moments later, taking Jessi’s cross and sending a header inward but just over the crossbar.
While Swen and ECA were being pulled to the outsides to deal with the Calizos, Anna Reimink picked apart the middle. Reimink, who netted a hat trick Saturday, stole a pass and ripped right down the middle of an unmanned ECA third and touched home the first goal. LCA then cleared away an Elkhart chance and immediately countered out to Tori Calizo, who outran Swen and beat Badskey for a 2-0 lead just a minute from Reimink’s goal.
At that point, the ECA defense was falling apart, and LCA took full advantage. Keely Bauer found room on the wing and pulled the defense over, to which she shuttled a cross to Tori Calizo on a dead run, the finish made it 3-0.
“When you have to scheme because of one player, that shows you how good she really is,” Raber said of Swen and working around her. “That’s what we worked on in practice, making runs down the side and drawing her out of the middle, then sending the ball back into space and running to it.”
Reimink would find Jessi Calizo in the 54th minute to make it 4-0 on an easy finish, and the tired legs and souls in the Eagles back third broke again when Reimink made a run, found Jessi Calizo, then sent a diagonal to Tori Calizo, who finished her hat trick to close out the scoring in the 58th minute.
Elkhart would take the game’s final five shots, but Maddie Paris was up to the task in stopping all seven of the shots that went her way for the shutout. The marksmanship of Carlie Wise, Avery Hobbs and Liza Schmitt in getting in the way just enough frustrated ECA’s Abi Lollis and Tori Slaggs enough to hold the duo to four shots, Slaggs with only one shot that clanked off the bar in the first half.
“Our defense was awesome tonight,” Raber said. “Maddie was good in net, but our outside backs had the challenge put to them. (ECA) had six goals Saturday, and five of them came off crosses into the middle we couldn’t clear. We made sure that didn’t happen tonight, and we kept their forwards marked pretty well.
“When you see a team a few days before the sectional, it helps in the regard that you get a sense of what they want to try to do. We felt out their offense a little in the first part of tonight’s game and adjusted well.”
LCA (12-3-2) will advance to face Lakewood Park Christian, which dismantled Central Noble, 5-0, in the day’s first game. LCA and LPC met Sept. 13, which ended in a 5-0 LCA victory in Winona Lake. Raber feels his team has a good shot based off the way it played Tuesday.
“I don’t want the girls to get too ahead of themselves,” Raber said of possibly looking past LPC in the semis. “I think when the girls saw the draw, they got excited because we didn’t have to play either Bethany or Westview until the final. But Saturday proved that you can’t take anyone for granted. ECA hung six on us, and that easily could be LPC. They are playing better soccer and won 5-0 tonight. We have to take care of business Thursday before we start thinking about anything in a championship.”
The sectional semi-finals will have LCA and LPC play at 5 p.m. Thursday, with Bethany Christian and Westview playing the second game. The winners will meet Saturday at 2 p.m. for the sectional championship.