The Cleveland Heights girls' soccer team allowed two goals in the last four minutes of the first half, giving West Geauga a 4-1 halftime advantage that the Wolverines protected for a 5-3 victory on Monday night at .
“At the end of the half, we didn’t finish as well as we should have,” Cleveland Heights head coach Robbie Helfgott said. “We left a few things open across the back line, and they were able to capitalize.”
After building a 2-0 lead off of goals by Maria May and Taylor Tercek, the Tigers struck back with 8:20 left in the half. Arion Jackson split two defenders with a beautiful entry pass into the box and Kalah Saunders finished with a perfect lob over the goalie and into the back of the net, cutting the Tiger deficit in half.
However, Cleveland Heights could not maintain the momentum as Tercek answered four minutes later with a great shot from the corner of the box. Then with just 1:24 left till halftime, May found Marley Praprost on the other side of the box for an easy tap-in.
“The game plan coming in was high pressure,” West Geauga head coach Bill Bryan said. “We ran dynamic plays in the attacking third and looked to create opportunities.”
Things were quiet for the first 15 minutes of the second half, until Praprost put in another easy goal off of a ball Cleveland Heights keeper Dolisha Moton couldn’t control.
The Tigers did not pack it in, however, and made a run over the next 10 minutes. Meg Lentz scored with 16:41 left off a penalty kick and Saunders added her second goal of the night when she dribbled around West Geauga keeper Kaeli Gallagher and connected on a wide-open net. In the end, their run only changed the margin of defeat.
“If we finished the half today, we would have been back in it,” Helfgott said. “We can still build off this, but it’s not the result we were hoping for."
Saunders along with West Geauga’s Tercek and Praprost led the game with two goals each. West Geauga outshot the Tigers 25-11, 17 of the Wolverines’ shots coming on goal to eight for Cleveland Heights.
“Both (Tercek and Praprost) are very tough workers,” Bryan said of his two forwards. “They worked very hard, not standing around and waiting for the ball. They were tough to mark with the way they were moving.”
Gallagher had four saves for West Geauga while Moton notched 11 for Cleveland Heights. Moton had a number of great saves that could have easily put the game out of reach.
“Dolisha has come a long way since last year. She had a great game and kept us in it,” Helfgott said.
Cleveland Heights returns to action on Thursday when the team travels to Mentor at 7 p.m., which begins a three-game road trip for the Tigers. The Tigers return home Monday, Sept. 12, and play Berea for a 7 p.m. match at .