By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Early in the first half, Warrior Run’s Taylor Landis watched as a shot caromed off the goal and landed behind her. She was unable to make a play before Southern Columbia’s back line cleared the ball.
So in the second half, when she saw Sarah Grow take a high shot from about 10 yards out, Landis thought it was either going to bounce off the top of the crossbar again or sail high and over the net.
The senior alertly ran to right where the ball would land and, as it bounced, Landis jumped and swung her right leg up to nearly shoulder height to kick it past Southern Columbia goalie Jess Watkins. The goal was the only one in a hard-fought game and it gave the Defenders a 1-0 win Wednesday afternoon.
Landis was all over the field taking shots for the Defenders (10-0, 8-0 HAC II) against Southern Columbia (7-4, 4-3), including five of Warrior Run’s 10 shots by the time she exited in the first half. Four were close to being goals, including one early in the half that bounced off the right post.
“I thought it was going to come. She was pressing and the team was pressing and I thought we would eventually get one in there,” Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said.
The Southern Columbia defense knew they were in for a tough game against unbeaten Warrior Run, a team they lost to earlier this year by the same score. But the Tigers’ back line especially stepped up when it had to against the Defenders, not giving up any easy looks at the goal or allowing the Defenders to set up plays inside.
Warrior Run had 21 shots overall, just three of which occurred inside of the goal area (two by Landis). The Defenders also had 15 corner kicks, but they weren’t able to punch in any of them due to the Tigers’ defensive effort.
“We gave up the corners, but obviously they defended them well. They did a good job with the corners.” Southern Columbia coach Derek Stine said. “Our defense stepped up. I mean, they’ve been playing well. They really have.”
In the first half, Warrior Run dominated the possession game, giving up just three first half shots to Southern Columbia.
And while the Warrior Run defense held strong throughout the game, it was freshman goalie Olivia George who made a big impact for the Defenders against a talented Southern Columbia offense.
“She’s quick, up and down. She’s down, she’s back up again and that’s what she’s worked hard at,” Allen said.
With the clock ticking down in the second half, Southern Columbia needed a goal to tie the game and swing the momentum. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that meant trying to sneak one past George.
Southern Columbia had three great looks in the final 5:40, but each time George was right there to make a stop. On the Tigers’ final shot on goal, George left her line only to see a Southern Columbia player slip the ball quickly past her. George made a heads-up play and turned around to dive on the ball, stopping the potential game-tying shot.
“That was scary. That was a little nerve-wracking,” George said laughing. “That was my fault. I should’ve had that first, but I’m glad she didn’t stay with it. It was a blessing that I could get back up and dive back on that.”