---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL -- With the ball high in the air, Warrior Run's Madison Bennett managed to head it to her right. Thankfully teammate Chloe Eisenhuth happened to be standing in the right spot at just the right time.
Eisenhuth jumped up in a sea of blue and white jerseys and had a beautiful header to the near post to break open a scoreless game with Mount Carmel at the 33:55 mark of the first half.
Less than four minutes later, Eisenhuth again found the net for a Warrior Run score.
Her two first-half goals helped Warrior Run control the game as they went on to defeat the Red Tornadoes, 3-0, in a Heartland Athletic Conference Division II game at Mount Carmel on Wednesday.
"She's aggressive and she knows this year she has to step up big," Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said of Eisenhuth. "She's our senior leader on the field and she answered the call."
Eisenhuth's header which put the Defenders (1-0) on the board first came after she had a corner kick and managed to get into position after Warrior Run kept the ball away from any Mount Carmel (1-1) defenders.
"She's the shortest person on our team and she gets the head balls. I don't know how she does it, but she just does," Allen said laughing. "Defensively she clears out the headers on corners. She just has a knack for getting the balls in the air."
Eisenhuth's second goal came with 29:47 to play when she took a loose ball from roughly 25 yards out and drilled a shot to the far post past a diving Sami Zigarski.
The Defenders scored their final goal with 14:33 to play in the second half when Lanie Urbanski stayed with the ball as it approached Mount Carmel's goalie and slid to kick it past her and put Warrior Run up 3-0, a huge deficit for the Red Tornadoes.
Mount Carmel struggled getting shots off in the first half, recording just five, only one of which came from inside the goal box. It wasn't until the second half that the Red Tornadoes started getting more looks at the goal.
"We were starting to get more shots (in the second half) and we were starting to pass and move the ball and settle down a little bit," Mount Carmel coach Rich Miller said. "(We) got used to their pressure. They're fast to the ball. I thought we were moving it pretty good there at end of first half and beginning of second half."
Laura Bastian, Gabby Heiss, Ashlynn Bacchieri and Bennett were solid defensively at clearing the ball whenever Mount Carmel tried setting up an attack and routinely kept Mount Carmel's Ali Varano from using her speed to beat them on breakaways and attempting shots from deep in Warrior Run's end.
In the opening 20 minutes of the first half, Varano recorded just one shot and she managed to fire only one from within the goal box all 80 minutes.
"Everybody's going to do that with her," Miller said of defenses keying on Varano, the Daily Item Preseason Player of the Year. "We try to get the ball through her. She had a couple shots, and against a real good team like this you don't get that many shots."
While Varano was marked well all game, the senior nearly scored in the first two minutes of the game when she had a slow roller from inside the goal box that crept toward the far post. However the Defenders' Heiss booted it out of bounds before it had the chance to roll in, preventing a big early goal.
"Varano's quick and fast, and the girls know that she is," Allen said. "They kind of had their game plan ready and tried to shut her down."
Late in the second half, the Red Tornadoes had another chance to avert a shutout when Mount Carmel freshman Anna Zeluskey dribbled the ball to the front of the 18-yard box and rifled a shot to the near post. Defenders sophomore goalie Olivia George had a great diving stop to keep the Red Tornadoes from scoring.
"Our defense was tough. We really hung together and played really well together," Eisenhuth said.
Warrior Run nearly netted a third goal late in the first half when a shot bounced off the post and right to the Defenders' Rachel Grow. She drilled a shot to the far post, only to have it miss by about a foot and go out of bounds.