ELMA — One toe poke in traffic was the difference between Elma and Rochester on Thursday night at Davis Field.
In a battle of the top-two Evergreen 1A girls soccer teams, the Warriors took advantage of a loose ball in the 55th minute and defensively kept the Eagles from responding for a scintillating 2-1 victory.
Anna Vasquez scored both of Rochester’s goals, including the toe-poke game-winning goal.
Brooke Goldsmith knocked home the lone marker for Elma, which marked breast cancer awareness month and honored its youth soccer teams before the match.
“Rochester played a good defensive game,” Elma head coach Chris Schumacher said. “My front line had a hard time getting any good combinations going. Their defense played great. It does take the wind out of your sails when you can’t get the ball through. At times, we played well, played them hard and straight up. Rochester prevailed, they played a great game.”
Both teams displayed a tough defensive shell that made offensive plays tough to pounce upon. Chances were there for goals, but opportunities disappeared as the match neared full time.
With the match tied 1-1 in the 55th minute, Rochester (11-2) was awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal on the far left side of the field. Elma (11-2) set up a five-woman wall to defend it.
The Warriors’ Cameron Althauser took the free kick and went low to the right of the wall, right into the heart of the Eagles’ penalty area. The ball got within five yards and several players tried to either kick the ball into the net or clear it before Vasquez poked it past goalkeeper Alyssa Sutherby for the marker.
Following the goal, Rochester pressed its advantage and kept Elma pinned inside of its own penalty area for the next 10 minutes of play. The Warriors kept the pressure on, but the Eagles withstood the challenge.
Within the final 15 minutes, Elma had several corner kicks and chances to tie up the match. However, Rochester’s defense was packed in and blocked several kicks that were solid and on goal.
One final push came when Alicia Hook delivered a dangerous low cross. With the ball streaking past the face of the goal at near-point blank range, three Elma players missed.
“They played the ball in the air well, too,” Schumacher said. “I have to give them credit. They played a great game. We played tough, too. We played a great game. Tonight, we didn’t get the amounts of shots we normally get. We just have to get back to simple soccer and move on.”
Vasquez put Rochester on the scoreboard in the fifth minute of the match off a counter-attack wave. Her first shot on goal was saved by Sutherby, but the rebound got behind her and trickled across the goal line.
Elma responded with three hard waves of attack after the goal, but the Rochester defense blocked them before they got to goalkeeper Makayla Shank.
In the 15th minute, the Eagles got their equalizer. Midfielder Izzy Cristelli, who physically held off the Warriors to maintain and sustain possession in the midfield, popped a well-placed long ball over the Rochester defense.
Goldsmith timed her run just right, getting to the ball ahead of Shank just inside the penalty area and knocking the ball into an empty net for the tie.
In the junior varsity match, Rochester won, 2-0.
On Tuesday, Elma travels to Adna.