Playing four games in the past week, the O’Fallon High girls soccer squad avoided a loss in their first three encounters by going 1-0-2 and celebrated their good fortune in their most recent contest with a scintillating overtime victory over the Granite City Warriors.
Scoring was at a premium in the string of games leading up to their showdown with Granite City as the Panther booters produced only three goals in the three games. Fortunately, O’Fallon’s defense was stellar during the scoring drought which allowed coach Craig Dippel’s charges to defeat Alton 2-1 and battle to a pair of ties, 0-0 against Alton Marquette and 1-1 against Geneva.
The local girls started the week with a Southwestern Conference victory over the Alton Redbirds. The Panthers overcame a 1-0 first half deficit with two scores in the final 40 minutes.
“In the Alton game, I thought we were a bit sluggish at times,” Dippel said. “We got behind early and trailed at halftime because of our sporadic play. In the second half, we picked up the pace and played a lot smarter.”
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Freshmen Tamia Cash and senior Tori Weiss produced the goals needed for the Panthers to secure the victory. Cash, one of O’Fallon’s leading scorers in the early season, fired a shot past the Redbird goalkeeper to tie the score, and Weiss followed a few minutes later with the game-winner. Elaine Gorom and Michaela Drouin rallied O’Fallon’s defensive effort, holding the Redbirds to just one goal and setting up the second half heroics which translated into an OTHS victory.
Late last week, the local booters hosted Alton Marquette and the two teams battled to a scoreless tie. Again Dippel was not overwhelmed by his team’s overall performance.
“Against Marquette, our play was a bit uninspiring,” Dippel said. “I didn’t feel we played to our full capabilities, yet we did create some good scoring chances which forced their goalie to make a couple of very tough saves in the second half.”
O’Fallon’s best scoring chances came in the first half, but the speed and quickness of the Marquette defenders denied the Panthers a chance to pull out a victory and settle for a scoreless deadlock.
A tie, this time 1-1, was the result of O’Fallon’s face-off against Geneva High School last Saturday morning. Although the final score ended in another deadlock, Dippel saw some definite improvements in his Panthers both offensively and defensively.
“The Geneva game was much better in that I thought we played with more purpose and focus,” explained the veteran OTHS mentor. “Our girls were moving off the ball and opening up passing lanes which led to us controlling much of the play. We created a lot of goal scoring opportunities but just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
“We kind of fell into a lull near the end of the game, allowing them to score with about four minutes left,” Dippel added. “However, I felt we played much better all the way around. It was the type of game we needed to prepare for a string of conference games coming up in the next couple of weeks.
The Lady Panthers put it all together Tuesday evening, winning an important Southwestern Conference contest against long time nemesis Granite City. The defensive effort was once again stellar as they allowed only one first half goal and shut the door on the Warriors the rest of the way. Freshman Sam Stutsman fired in a shot in the second half to tie the score and came up even bigger in the overtime, scoring her second goal of the game—the game-winner.