Blazers can not slay the Wolverines
OCT. 28, WATKINS MILL—
Coming off of two consecutive wins, girls' soccer entered their first play-off game in an optimal situation. They seemed to be peaking both physically and mentally at just the right time. However, teamwork and momentum were not enough for the Blazers to overcome the Watkins Mill Wolverines, a talented team of seasoned players who would beat Blair 3-0, just as they had during the regular season.
The Blazers are a young team, with only three of last season's starters returning to play through the end of the season. Their relative inexperience together put Blair at an immediate disadvantage against the Wolverines, who are ranked second in Blair's 4A West Division. "We just don't match up well,” said coach Robert Gibb after the game. The Watkins Mill players were physically more powerful than the Blair girls, which produced a subdued offense from Blair and aggressive, fast-paced shot-making from the Wolverines.
The Blazers had their moments of glory during the match, including a well-played second 20 minutes in which the girls, fired up by two Watkins Mill goals in the previous 20 minutes, took advantage of the Wolverines' fatigue to put together several nice crosses and nearly successful shots. An energy boost at this point, however, was not enough to spur the Blazers to gain a lead, and the second half deteriorated gradually into damage control. "We had our chances,” said Gibb. "We just didn't get the goals we needed.”
A slow beginning for both teams yielded to a flurry of shots from Watkins Mill on Blair's goal. Only 11 minutes into the match, a Wolverine corner kick was headed into the goal out of the reach of senior goalie Julia Simon-Mishel. Watkins Mill was able to work the corners well tonight, a talent that would prove to be the Blazers' demise. Blair lacked support of its strikers in the minutes which followed. The few players that were able to gain control of the ball had no teammate to pass to and were frequently left stranded near the Watkins Mill goal.
The Wolverines would waste little time widening their lead. During the 20th minute, a Watkins Mill player made a shot on goal which Simon-Mishel blocked. Unfortunately the ball deflected off of her and towards a second striker, who was able to score easily with Simon-Mishel unable to stop another shot after a full-out dive. The Blazers attempted to mount an offensive attack after the second goal which was unsuccessful. The offensive burst culminated in a missed indirect kick in the box which seemed like a sure bet for seniors Vicky Dean and Carrie Cox, who together orchestrated the move.
When the second half started, Watkins Mill came out of the gates aggressively. Within the first four minutes, a Wolverine maneuvered past a weak line of Blair defenders to score for the third and final time. The last part of the second half, particularly the final 20 minutes, were listless for Blair and Watkins Mill together. Neither played with great passion, and their play amounted to a fairly uneventful string of exchanges.
This game marked the end of the Blazers' season, as well as the high school careers of the team's seniors. Gibb feels that this season has been quite memorable because of the team's resiliency in the face of a multitude of obstacles. After losing last year's strong group of seniors, the team faced a rough few games to start the season only to lose key starters in juniors Sophie Esparza and Cate Rassman several weeks later. "It would have been easy to make excuses, but they didn't,” explained Gibb.
Gibb has high hopes and is excited for the 2005 season, though he will lose many starters to graduation. The team will suffer from the loss of, among others, Simon-Mishel at keeper and senior Lindsey Fowler-Marques at midfield, but he is already contemplating talented successors. Two JV goalies, sophomores Allie Kator and Maggie Sullivan, have been given varsity playing time this season and will be prepared for stalwart varsity positions next year.
This year's team was impressive for its sheer ability to bounce back from defeat, crisis, and various other obstacles while never losing the play-to-win attitude and fun-loving spirit and passion for the game. "I'm going to remember them because they overcame a lot,” Gibb said, adding, "I'm proud.”
Ellie Blalock. Ellie is a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys such activities as traveling, being able to say "water" in six languages and having heart-to-heart chats with eccentric politicians. If you're in need of a laugh, please ask Ellie about her driving record...you … More »