Whitney holds back Grizzlies in soccer victory
A physically and technically strong Granite Bay team came calling on Whitney’s girls soccer team and got a bit of a lesson in team defense as the Wildcats came away with their sixth victory 3-1 Thursday.
The Grizzlies did not go away quietly spending most of the day on Whitney’s side of the field. But try as they might, they could only get the ball into the goal once. And that was early in the first period to tie the game 1-1.
“Today was a great game – great game starting from the bench, the starters, everybody,” said Whitney head coach Ana Jones, now in her fourth year with the varsity. “Our goalie is doing amazing right now.”
Wildcats’ goalkeeper Molly McConnell was nothing short of phenomenal in fending off Granite Bay’s attacks with 12 saves. And her supporting cast seldom let the Green Bears within striking distance of the goal.
On offense, Jessica Randhawa scored Whitney’s first goal on a superb assist from Aliyah Utush in the opening minutes of the first half. As the period was drawing to a close, Tara Armstrong made good on a penalty kick from 30 yards out.
Armstrong’s kick couldn’t have been more perfect if she had measured it. The boot easily cleared Granite Bay’s defenders and appeared to virtually float across the goal. It passed almost seamlessly between the leaping outstretched arms of the Grizzlies’ goalie and the top rail of the goal for the score. It proved to be all the points Whitney would need but they weren’t through.
In the second half, Utush again went to work to set up an assist to Ashley Hunter who outmaneuvered the Grizzlies’ goalie for the final score midway through the second half. Granite Bay later scored but was called for off sides to negate the point.
“They’re gelling together,” Jones said of her 2013 club. “Sometimes it’s hard to see with 17-18 players on the team but they’re really gelling together. Everybody on this team has contributed in one way or another.”
The Grizzlies’ last attempt for a goal only served to showcase McConnell’s ability to defend the goal. A near-precision head bump appeared destined for a score when it was picked out of the air at its apex by a leaping McConnell; a play reminiscent of her basketball skills.
The win improved the ‘Cats preseason record to 6-0-1. Granite Bay is 1-1.
Whitney goes on the road next week to Bella Vista Tuesday and visits cross-town rival Rocklin Thursday.
WHITNEY 3, GRANITE BAY 1
Grizzlies 1 0 – 1
Wildcats 2 1 – 3