EMMA – Bethany Christian had the perfect game plan for a championship.
The Bruins played a near flawless defensive game and got the goals it needed to take down Lakeland Christian, 2-0, in the championship match of the Class 1-A Westview Girls Soccer Sectional on a frosty Saturday night.
The design for Bethany’s ambition to advance mirrored that to what LCA wanted to do – isolate the stars, make someone else beat them. Bethany achieved its checklist, holding the high-powered sister act of Tori and Jessi Calizo virtually silent in the match. The two sisters – with a combined 41 goals and 20 assists this season – managed just three offensive pushes into the Bethany defensive third the entire night. One in the first half that had Jessi Calizo sandwiched in the corner that led to a goal kick. The other two came with under 20 minutes left in the match, Bethany snuffing out LCA’s organization in the 61st minute, and withstanding LCA’s only shot in the match in the 72nd. Tori Calizo had the shot on a free kick from about 25 yards out, and it showed just how dangerous Calizo is on the ball, her rocket destined to the upper 90 until Sarah Hochstetler tipped the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
“We said from the start if either of those two (Calizos) got the ball that we were doubling and even triple teaming them,” said Bethany Christian head coach Joel Gonzalez. “Someone else would have to beat us. Those back four from us, we were able to settle on them early in the season. We can trust them. They weren’t tested much tonight with just the one shot on goal, but a lot of that is taking away their looks before they can be created. We did a great job on defense tonight.”
Without the LCA offense able to muster anything, Bethany controlled most of the possession and made its constant pestering count in the LCA penalty area.
Looking content to just run out the first half clock, the Cougar defense lapsed just for a moment, and that was all Caroline Cartmel needed. Taking a lazy pass back into the LCA penalty area, a pair of weaves and a tuck away led to a shocking 1-0 advantage with less than two minutes left in the first half.
Cartmel, which LCA head coach Nat Raber pointed to as the jersey to mark, saw the white 10 escape unmarked just two minutes into the second half and rifle a shot that LCA keeper Finley Hobbs had to make a point-blank diving save and ricochet off the crossbar to keep the deficit at one.
In all, Cartmel had eight shots in the match, two of which Hobbs had to come up with acrobatic saves to limit the damage.
“They played us exactly how I would have played us,” admitted Raber. “They dropped back when they needed to. We weren’t able to generate a lot of offensive pressure and we wanted to keep a little bit of a defensive mindset. We accomplished that for 38 minutes until they got that goal right before the half. That really killed us more than anything.”
Bethany found its second goal at the 70-minute mark, a shot finding the errant arm of defender Avery Hobbs in the penalty area to draw the penalty kick. Rilynn Kauffman beat Finley Hobbs left corner for the goal.
On the night, Bethany outshot LCA 21-1, had 16 of those find its target, and Hobbs had to corral 13 saves. Hochstetler had just the one touch on the night for the clean sheet for the Bruins.
“We are still a really young program and it’ll come,” stated Raber, whose club closes at 10-5-1. “We’ve enjoyed some great success so far the past couple years and we fortunately have a lot of juniors. It’s a good team and a lot of really quality girls. We will be fine.”
Bethany (16-2) will look to avenge one of its losses this season when it meets Argos in the LaVille Regional. The Dragons beat the Bruins, 2-0, on Oct. 4.