Valley Center has carved out a reputation in recent years as one of the best possess-and-defend teams from the area.
In high-caliber games, the Hornets usually keep numbers back defensively, play keep-away from their opponent, and hope they can produce a goal from a set play and win 1-0.
But on Tuesday, Valley Center proved capable of winning a high-caliber game with a more offensive-minded approach in a 2-1 victory over Eisenhower. The Hornets registered a crucial league victory and improved to 5-1-1, while Eisenhower (6-1) suffered its first defeat of the season.
“Being able to win, especially having two goals when we’ve struggled to finish prior to this, feels great,” Valley Center sophomore Emily Breault said. “This was a big challenge for us, so this is a big confidence-booster for us.”
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Eisenhower earned the early lead in the 12th minute when Kiley Sweet rolled a free kick to Tera Lynch, 10 feet to her right just far enough to see around Valley Center’s wall, and Lynch sent a curling shot 30 yards away from goal past the out-stretched arms of a diving Bethany Reeves and off the post into the back of the net.
It was Lynch’s ninth goal of the season and broke a 4-match goalless streak for the senior.
“Bethany is an amazing keeper and she has been for the last four years, so to beat her from that range, it had to be something special,” Eisenhower coach Brandon Sommer said. “I’m still not sure how Tera got that one to go in.”
In seasons past, Valley Center falling behind 1-0 in the 12th minute would have been near-fatal.
But the Hornets were coming off an 8-0 victory over Winfield the day before, and coach Steen Danielsen believes that confidence carried over to the Eisenhower game. Not even 20 minutes later, Valley Center netted the equalizer when Breault was played through into the box and had the composure to slot away a shot over a sliding defender and a charging keeper.
“I knew I couldn’t play it on the ground, so I just had to chip it a little,” said Breault, who scored her second goal of the season. “It was really exciting.”
Valley Center would find the game-winner in the 63rd minute on a free kick lay-off of its own.
Ariel Wolff could have had a go with a 25-yard angled free kick, but decided to play it straight across to an unmarked Sammy Boese, who had an even better angle straight on from goal. Wolff caught the Eisenhower wall by surprise by sending a roller Boese’s way and Boese made Eisenhower pay for its mistake by one-timing a shot with serious pace just under the crossbar that was too much for Eisenhower keeper Kensey Arlt to handle.
“I think Ariel was going to shoot it, but then I yelled at her and right then we both had the same idea,” Boese said. “I figured I didn’t have time to take another touch, so I just watched the ball in and when the opportunity came I just took it.”
It’s having that kind of mentality that Valley Center has struggled with in the past. Danielsen thinks that play, as well as the last 10 days, which Valley Center has come out with four wins and a tie, is indicative of a breakthrough for his club.
“First off, it was great vision by Ariel to see that and then for Sammy to keep her composure because that is a tough shot to hit completely square first touch,” Danielsen said. “And to hit it with that much pace, I was impressed. A lot of people would have tried to place that, but Sammy followed through and drove it and that’s the reason it was a goal because it had so much pace.”
A stiff wind a pair of solid defenses limited the offensive chances of both teams. Valley Center had a shot bounce off the crossbar and Reeves laid out for a spectacular save of a sure-goal by Eisenhower, but the game did not see many offensive chances other than those instances.
Each team finished with six shots on target in the game, but the difference was Valley Center being able to convert with limited opportunities — something it has struggled to do in the past.
It comes as somewhat of a surprise after Valley Center graduated its most dangerous weapon in winger Kennedy Weaver, as the team does not have anyone capable of netting the nearly 30 goals Weaver did last season.
But the Hornets are proving this season that they don’t need to replace Weaver’s production with a single player. Boese has stepped up her goal-scoring production and now has 10 goals through seven games, while players such as Breault, Wolff, Cheyenne Lisle, and Chelsea John have all proven capable of joining the attack and being dangerous as well.
“We knew people were looking at us as underdogs coming into this season after we graduated (Weaver),” Boese said. “But I think personally we knew we could do it. Just having that confidence is a lot of it because we have the talent and now we are coming out here and capitalizing on our chances.”
VALLEY CENTER 2, EISENHOWER 1
|Valley Center (5-1-1)||1||1||—||2|
First half: 1. Eisenhower, Lynch (Sweet); 2. Valley Center, Breault. Second half: 3. Valley Center, Boese (Ar. Wolff). Shots: Valley Center 6, Eisenhower 6. Saves: Valley Center, Reeves 5; Eisenhower, Arlt 4.
BISHOP CARROLL 5, NORTH 0
First half: 1. Carroll, Allen (Akin); 2. Carroll, Akin. Second half: 3. Carroll, Allen (La. Brooks); 4. Carroll, Allen (Kerr); 5. Carroll, Kaltenbach (Lubbers). Shots: North 1, Carroll 14. Saves: North, Diaz 9; Carroll, McCorry 1.
KAPAUN MT. CARMEL 10, SOUTHEAST 0
First half: 1. Kapaun, Ayala (Monty); 2. Kapaun, Ayala (Monty); 3. Kapaun, Monty (Ayala); 4. Kapaun, Boulanger (Hastings); 5. Kapaun, Ayala (Monty); 6. Kapaun, Porter; 7. Kapaun, Monty (Hastings); 8. Kapaun, own goal; 9. Kapaun, Kreutzer (Ray). Second half: 10. Kapaun, Rudy. Shots: Southeast 0, Kapaun 14. Saves: Southeast, Smith 4; Kapaun, Koster 0.
DERBY 7, HUTCHINSON 0
First half: 1. Derby, Eickelman (Crone); 2. Derby, Franke; 3. Derby, Eickelman (Franke). Second half: 4. Derby, Stanley (Palmer); 5. Derby, Palmer (Crone); 6. Derby, Eickelman; 7. Derby, Moore (Drouhard). Shots: Hutchinson 2, Derby 15. Saves: Hutchinson, Kinney 6; Derby, Winkle 2.
NEWTON 6, SALINA CENTRAL 0
|Salina Central (1-8)||0||0||—||0|
First half: 1. Newton, Entz (Saenz); 2. Newton, Entz (Edson); 3. Newton, Saenz; 4. Newton, Tonn (Olson). Second half: 5. Newton, Saenz (Entz); 6. Newton, Entz. Shots: Salina Central 2, Newton 15. Saves: Salina Central, Ruvalcaba 9; Newton, Akers 2.
MAIZE 5, SALINA SOUTH 2
ANDOVER 5, ARKANSAS CITY 0
|Arkansas City (1-8)||0||0||—||0|
First half: 1. Andover, Miller (Becker); 2. Andover, McSparen (Drumright). Second half: 3. Andover, Jones (Becker); 4. Andover, Myers (Short); 5. Andover, Young. Shots: Andover 18, Arkansas City 2. Saves: Andover, Aikman 1; Arkansas City, Palmer 12.
MAIZE SOUTH 6, GODDARD 2
|Maize South (7-1)||2||4||—||6|
First half: 1. Maize South, Green (Burnett); 2. Maize South, Zwetzig (Corr); 3. Goddard, Logan (Hutchison). Second half: 4. Maize South, Cooper (Edwards); 5. Maize South, Warren (Amaya); 6. Maize South, Cooper (Moore); 7. Maize South, Warren (Ledesma); 8. Goddard, Hutchison. Shots: Goddard 4, Maize South 29. Saves: Goddard, Loewen 6; Maize South, Johannsen 1.
MULVANE 2, COLLEGIATE 0
First half: 1. Mulvane, Melick (Mitchell); 2. Mulvane, Melick (Johnston). Shots: Mulvane 11, Collegiate 9. Saves: Mulvane, Kanaga 9; Collegiate, Caughlin 9.
McPHERSON 11, EL DORADO 0
|El Dorado (0-6)||0||x||—||0|
First half: 1. McPherson, Hughes (Wallace); 2. McPherson, Wallace (Hughes); 3. McPherson, Schrader (Wallace); 4. McPherson, Wallaces (Hughes); 5. McPherson, Burghart; 6. McPherson, Myers; 7. McPherson, Hughes (Burghart); 8. McPherson, Kynaston; 9. McPherson, Wallace (Wash); 10. McPherson, C. Hedlund; 11. McPherson, N. Hedlund (Wurm). Shots: El Dorado 0, McPherson 21. Saves: El Dorado, Mahon 10; McPherson, Hett 0.
CIRCLE 3, ROSE HILL 0
WINFIELD 4, BUHLER 3