It’s been a season of firsts for the Northwest girls soccer team, which accomplished another one in its 2-0 victory over Kapaun Mount Carmel at Stryker Field on Tuesday night.
It was the first time the eight seniors on the roster had defeated the Crusaders in their four years. Earlier in the season the Grizzlies knocked off Maize, another traditional powerhouse that had regularly defeated them.
The victory moves Northwest to 7-1, 3-0 in City League play, but it meant more than just another tally in the win column to the seniors.
“We knew we had the team to do it, now we’re just showcasing our talent,” Northwest senior defender Ashton Taylor said. “This is a big step forward for our seniors.”
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Northwest struck early, taking the lead in the sixth minute off a soaring corner kick from Paige Achey that found Lexi Clark on the back post.
Clark, along with Kapaun’s entire defense, shifted to the front of the box initially. But Clark was the only one to read the ball in the air and cut backwards to beat the defense, and the keeper, to the ball, squarely heading it into the goal for the 1-0 lead.
“It just comes natural, I guess,” Clark said of her reaction on the play.
The momentum didn’t stop there, as Achey and Katie Cramer wreaked havoc on Kapaun’s back line in the first 30 minutes. Another goal surfaced in the 16th minute when Achey caught Kapaun’s back line too deep and received a perfect ball from Emily Jensen in front of the net, which she neatly tucked away for the 2-0 lead.
“We built a hole for ourselves,” Kapaun coach Alan Shepherd said. “We made a few mistakes and they capitalized. I thought intensity-wise, they won that game.”
Kapaun produced several opportunities in the final 50 minutes of the game. Three straight corners in the final five minutes of the first half came up empty, once with the post clanging away a Kapaun shot.
The Crusaders seemed on the verge of a goal, but Northwest’s centerback duo of Taylor and Yesenia Satillan were too tidy in the back to allow any free chances.
The loss sets Kapaun back to 5-5, but Shepherd pointed out there is a reason why his program has won 10 of the last 11 City League championships.
“We have a lot of tradition and I think our kids are going to bounce back,” Shepherd said. “It’s just one game in the City League. Does it hurt our chances? Yeah, but we’ve done it before and we know we can come back.”
First half – Northwest, Clark (Achey); Northwest, Achey (Jensen). Shots—Northwest 8-5—13, Kapaun 2-5—7. Saves—Northwest, Evans 2-5—7; Kapaun, Michaelis 6-5—11.