News-Sun photo by DAN HOEHNE The race is on for Mary Grace Bates to get this shot off before the LaBelle defender cuts off her angle Monday night. Bates would score later in the second half, but the Cowgirls big first half lead to a 4-2 LaBelle win.
published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tryptophan, Cowgirls do in Lady Dragons
By DAN HOEHNE
LAKE PLACID - It was the annual "Turkey Bowl" as Lake Placid girls soccer coach John Merlo calls it.
That first game back after the Thanksgiving break where his team seems to have trouble getting going - such as in Monday night's 4-2 loss to visiting LaBelle.
"Too much turkey and not enough practice," is how he described it. "And the two practices we had weren't mandatory, so with some girls out of town, we had about eight or nine that were there."
Which goes a long way to explaining a lopsided first half in which the Cowgirls scored all four of their goals for the night.
"We came out slow and didn't run our trap very well," Merlo said. "We have an underclassman who is running the defense for the first time and she gets a little overwhelmed at times. It's an experience builder, but tonight we left their main scorer free way too often."
Hannah Waller did get the Lady Dragons on the board in the opening 40 minutes and the team went into the half trailing 4-1.
"We wanted to improve the little things and we set our goals for the second half," Merlo said. "The goals were to get at least one more score and prevent them from scoring again."
And they set about doing that as the defense really tightened up and goalkeeper Tamija Douglas stepped up in a big way.
On the night, Douglas had eight saves, many of the sliding and diving variety.
None, though, was more impressive than on a penalty kick in the second half.
Facing the LaBelle striker one-on-one, Douglas didn't commit too early and made a leap toward the right corner of the goal to deflect it away.
And for a good portion of the second half, had one not noticed the scoreboard, it might have seemed Lake Placid was in control and keeping the ball on the Cowgirl side of the field.
"It's a little tough though," Merlo said. "Our two midfielders, we're asking them to help out on defense more so that by the time they get the ball up field, they don't have enough leg left to really take a good shot. We'd get it there, but the shots didn't have much on them."
That was, until the 75th minute when the combination of Michelle Hunter and Mary Grace Bates showed some impressive leg strength.
On a breakaway, Hunter was racing in from the left and tried blasting a shot.
But a LaBelle defender was there to snuff it out, only the force of the shot sent it sideways where Bates faced a similar scenario.
Gathering the ball as a Cowgirl leapt toward her, Bates also saw the shot virtually stuffed.
But she unloaded with such steam that it still spurted forth with enough velocity to carry it into the far corner of the net.
The goals of the second half were accomplished, though the final moments would tick away with no further accomplishments.
"With it right after the holiday, a non-district game doesn't matter too much," Merlo said. "We came out slow but really picked it up and I'm happy with how the girls finished.
"This was good for us and now we should be ready to go with our next few games which, if we can play like this, are very winnable."
The Dragons hosted DeSoto Tuesday and travel to Hardee Thursday.
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