Stout defense and a barrage of shots led Shalom Christian to a decisive 5-2 victory over Cumberland Valley Christian in an early season Mason-Dixon Christian Conference girls soccer matchup Thursday night.
The game started off slowly, with neither team procuring any worthwhile scoring opportunities, but the host Flames eventually broke the tie 23 minutes into the match on a breakaway goal by forward Sarah Priest.
After the goal, Shalom became very aggressive on offense, relentlessly pouring shots at Blazers goalkeeper Maddie Keck, who finished the night with 12 saves.
The rivals exploded in the final four minutes of the half with three goals. Shalom's Lexy Poe scored, CV Christian answered on a goal by Emily Bard, and the Flames responded with another goal, by Brooke Emge, making it a 3-1 score at the half.
“All in all, I liked our girls’ intensity; they were playing very well," Shalom coach Bill Poe said. “I encouraged them to talk and work with each other and focus on pressure, cover and balance. That’s one thing I think we need to keep working on - just being vocal and focusing on those three things."
The second half opened up like the first half had, with neither team putting together any attacks until about 17 minutes in. CV Christian's Bri Miley was fouled a couple of feet outside of the penalty area and quickly reset the ball and sent a shot right over the keeper’s head, making it a 3-2 deficit.
The Blazers seized the momentum and began to get passes through to their forwards, resulting in some close calls in which shots barely missed the post or almost slid out of the keeper's hand and into the net.
Bill Poe said, “I just told the girls to keep putting pressure on them and try to get in the way of their passes. But you have to give Cumberland Valley some credit because they came out here and played a great game. It was an exciting game to watch.”
The score remained 3-2 until the last couple of minutes when Shalom crushed the Blazers' hopes and gained a comfortable cushion putting two more shots into the net, both by Emge to finish a hat trick.