Granite City coach Ken Prazma has known for a long time just how fast junior midfielder Lexi Grote can accelerate down a soccer field.
Now the Belleville East Lancers also know.
Grote scored on a breakaway with just over 30 minutes left in the game to give her team a two-goal lead and Granite City withstood a late Belleville East offensive push to defeat the Lancers 2-1 on Tuesday in a Southwestern Conference soccer game.
Looking for an offensive spark after a somewhat lackluster first half, the Lancers were attacking when the ball came loose and passed to Grote near midfield. With an open field ahead, Grote used her speed to easily get past the defender and came in alone on Lancers goalie Grace Tantillo.
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Venturing out of the goal area, Tantillo made an effort to stop Grote, who simply made one move to her right then calmly scored the Warriors’ second goal.
“Lexi’s got great speed and on that play she just was able to get past the defender and still have the ability to make a move to give her a better shot on goal,” Prazma said. “It was a big goal because it gave us a two goal lead.”
East sophomore Grace Brauer cut the Warriors lead to 2-1 a short time later with a goal from 20 yards out and the Lancers high scoring sophomore continued to put pressure on Warriors goalie Haley Davis the rest of the game. But East (8-5) could never get the equalizer as its five-game winning streak comes to an end..
“ I thought we came out slow tonight. We weren’t sharp,” Lancers coach Erika Todd-Baptist said. “We didn’t have many good scoring chances until late in the game and even some our chances were shots which were hit right at the goalie. It was also a physical game but one that we needed to play to get us ready for the rest of the season.”
How it went
Brauer, one of the top offensive players in the SWC, was coming off a three-goal performance in the Lancers 4-2 win over O’Fallon and now has 11 goals for the season.
The skilled Lancers forward nearly had a goal in the first minute of the game but her shot from point blank range was deflected and rolled near the goal where it was cleared by a Warriors defender before a Lancers player could tip it into the net.
Granite City also had a couple of good scoring chances early only to be turned away by the Lancers defense. But following a near miss only seconds earlier, Warriors forward Grace Neidhardt got the ball near the center of the field and threaded a perfect pass to senior midfielder Shelby Winn.
Winn quickly moved in on goal where she beat Tantillo from 18 yards out as Granite City took a 1-0 lead.
“It was a very nice play by Grace Neidhardt who was able to shake loose of the defender and find Shelby (Winn) with the ball,’’ Prazma said. “Then we were able to score again early in the second half., Both goals were big and this is a big win for us on the road against a good Belleville East tram.
“A couple of our girls told me about her (Brauer) and that she was a good player. She’s a very skilled offensive player. I’m very pleased that we were able to play well and hopefully give us a little momentum heading into the Collinsville game.’’