ANDOVER — During halftime of Thursday's soccer game against Goddard, Andover Central girls coach Stephanie Garcia struggled to come up with the word for taking advantage of opportunities. Garcia high-fived a player when it clicked: "Capitalizing."
Garcia needed a few seconds to pull the word, but Central and Goddard couldn't enact it in 100 minutes. The teams played to a scoreless tie because neither team capitalized on opportunities. Not that they had many — the game was mostly dominated by defense.
"Their defense pretty much shut us down," Garcia said. "But we didn't have anybody who was taking a lot of shots. They had their No. 1 and No. 2 (Jaclyn Means and Kayleigh Moore), who worked really well together, and we knew that going into the game. We tried to rely on our defense, and we worked with their attack as best we could."
The teams had different styles that became the same as they got desperate to score at the end of regulation and in two 10-minute overtime periods.
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Central was most comfortable on defense, where its most athletic players matched up well with the speed of the Lions. Goddard used Moore and Means to try to create breakaway opportunities and was the more frequent aggressor before the game became more fast-paced. The shots Goddard managed were often batted away or caught by goalkeeper Evan Stamp.
"(Means) came really close," Goddard coach Scott Harder said. "We thought that one goal might win this game, so we thought (we could win) if we could just isolate her and get some one-on-one breakaways. But this is the fastest defense that we've played against. It was not only a good keeper, but their defense could recover quickly."
The teams had to abandon their game plans, or at least alter them, in an effort to get the first goal. The faster pace seemed to favor Goddard, which features more dynamic playmakers, but Central was most assertive in the extra periods, outshooting Goddard 6-1.
"I honestly didn't know what to expect," Garcia said. "We came out and they all said, 'I want to get a goal, I want to score.' So we just went with it."
The pace left Goddard somewhat vulnerable because the Lions are made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores, and Central has senior playmakers on both sides of the ball — defender Shelby Sementelli and forward Sarah Potter.
But the Lions adjusted and by the second overtime they were more frequently on the attack. One shot hit the side of the net and players and fans with bad angles celebrated as if it had gone in.
"Toward the end there it seemed like there was just a lot of back and forth," Harder said. "There wasn't a lot of control in the middle of the field, it just seemed like it was, 'clear it and try and attack.' At that point it was anyone's game, it seemed like."
Goddard 0 0 0 0 — 0 Andover Central 0 0 0 0 — 0
Shots—Goddard 4-3-0-1—8; Andover Central 2-5-4-2—13. Saves— Goddard, Moore 1-2-2-1—6; Andover Central, Stamp 1-2-0-0—3.