ELIZABETHTOWN — The Elizabethtown girls’ soccer team came into Monday night’s matchup having played in just one single-goal contest, coming versus District One’s Souderton early in the season.
What is more, the Bears had only given up two goals — both of which came against Manheim Central three days later.
In Monday’s rematch with Manheim Central, however, the Bears combined the two memories in maintaining their undefeated season, holding off the energetic Barons 1-0 in front of a packed house at Jane Hoover Field.
“This feels amazing because Manheim Central is our biggest opponent, and we came out focused just like we did against Souderton,” said Bears’ junior Kimmy Bucher, whose cross to Talia Grynkewicz set-up the latter’s game-winning goal. “We just got in the zone like we always do and we finished it out to the very end. We never gave up.”
The Barons (7-3 Section Two, 9-3 overall) certainly didn’t make it easy, marking Grynkewicz and her fellow front-mid Jamie Marsico from end to end, start to finish.
But in the third minute of the second half, Bucher played a loose ball in the corner and fired it to a streaking Grynkewicz, who buried the shot past Barons’ keeper Kelli Kreider (9 saves) for the only tally Elizabethtown (10-0, 12-0) would require.
“I thought Kimmy made a perfect run,” Grynkewicz said. “She had her head up and I saw the chance to make the run through. Kimmy played a perfect ball.”
“The ball is really fast on this turf so it perfectly set up for a cross,” Bucher said.
Given how strong Kreider had been throughout the first half and with Central making its fair share of runs toward Bears’ keeper Carlee Reed (4 saves), the remaining 37 minutes of the match were anything but a sure bet.
“We gave everything that we could and we lost to a very good team,” said Barons’ coach John Shetromph. “I thought we shut down their offensive pretty well. I liked the way we were winning 50-50’s and moving the ball. It was good soccer. Both sides had good soccer.”
Central, which tied Etown with three corner kicks apiece, earned their lone corner of the second half immediately following the Bears’ score.
A long service cleared the scrum in the middle of the goalie box, allowing the Barons’ attack an open look at the far post. But defender Kendra Herr stood her ground in support of Reed to deflect the ball away and preserve the one goal advantage.
“I always tell them to mark the back post,” offered Reed. “And that was one time I was like ‘Thank God, they marked the back post.’”
Midway through the second half, Reed charged up the middle for a loose ball in front of the Barons’ top-scoring threat Kayla Herr. Later in the second, Reed made a pair of grabs on Central free-kick opportunities.
Throughout the contest, too, Reed and her defenders seemed in perfect synch as the Barons tried to break through, but to no avail.
“They always manage to cover each other and support each other,” Reed said of her back line. “It’s kind of nice that they always have each other’s back and my back.”
Aside from the lone tally, Etown had just one more good chance when a long strike in the 70th minute found the crossbar. But despite the Barons’ success defensively, the Bears never grew frustrated. In fact, they grew stronger in the adversity as the game continued.
“We knew this game was going to be fast-paced and kind of an aggressive game,” Grynkewicz said. “We were all excited; we weren’t too nervous for it but we all just wanted to work our hardest. … We all kind of kept our composure and didn’t let anything get to us.”
ET, Talia Grynkewicz (Kimmy Bucher), 43’
CORNERS-SHOTS: MC 3-5. ET 3-11.
SAVES: MC Kelli Kreider 9. ET Carlee Reed 4; Kendra Herr (def. save 1).