by Eric Oslund
The Spectrum Sting girls soccer team entered into their first conference game of the Dana Gibson era on Thursday, Sept. 7, when they hosted Maranatha.
Going into it, the Sting knew it was going to be a battle. Both teams play a physical style of soccer, and, to start, the ball hardly left midfield. Both sides were all over one another, exchanging possessions, with neither being able to do much with the control they got.
Little by little, though, Maranatha’s possessions began to get longer and longer. Then the shots started firing at the net. It soon became obvious that if the Sting were going to have a chance in this game, it was going to be on the back of their senior goaltender Anna Brown.
And as Maranatha fired off direct kicks, or made their way through the Sting’s defense to get a 1-on-1 opportunity, Brown stayed strong. Keeping every shot out of the net and keeping things tied 0-0 going into halftime.
“Our goalkeeper, Anna Brown, probably played the game of her goalie career, young as it is,” Gibson said. “She only played goalie for three games now, but had some really fantastic saves.”
Things would only get more and more difficult for the Sting netminder in the second half as Maranatha would continue to maintain possession of the ball. Stringing one pass into two, then into three, and eventually into four or five. Keeping the ball on their attackers’ feet and away from the Spectrum defenders.
With all that time of possession came more shots on nets, especially the direct kicks, which just began to build up for the visitors, but Brown held strong.
Then it happened. With 17:13 remaining in the game, Maranatha received another direct kick. This one came on the left side of the field, and as the player taking the shot lined up, the sun began to set right behind her head, clearly in the eyesight of Brown.
The Maranatha player lobbed the ball high towards the net, and Brown was able to fight the sun and hit it up above the net, seemingly out of harms way. That turned out not to be the case, though, as the ball landed on the cross bar, bounced off of it, and back in front of Spectrum’s net where an opposing player was waiting to put it in and score.
Maranatha took a 1-0 lead off a freak play, but that seemed to ignite the Sting offense.
“It was a little bit of a combination, I think,” Gibson said of his team’s late-game surge, “of them getting scored on, a little bit of trying a couple of different formations, trying to get people into positions – as we kind of talked in the beginning of the year about developing people into different positions that they’ve never played before – and just trying some new things. New personnel in new spots.”
Unfortunately, though, it would not be enough as the Sting just could not find the back of Maranatha’s net. Either coming up one pass short, or launching the ball just wide of the goal.
After the game, the Sting didn’t seem too upset about the loss. Yes, they wanted to win, but this game shows they could go up against a tough team in their conference. It gave them confidence going forward, and they now believe they have as good a shot at taking the title as anyone else.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on things from where I’ve been sitting,” the head coach said. “Been talking to some other coaches in the conference, it’s kind of, I think, up for grabs right now. I think we’ll be right in the mix.”