Down 2-0 to Liberty Center with 23 minutes left in the first half, it was time for Josh Radel’s youthful Evergreen Vikings to grow up and step up.
They did both as the Vikes scored three straight goals, including sophomore Kara Huntzinger’s game-winner with 22:31 left in the game, then got save after save from junior Hannah Wilson coming down the stretch in a 3-2 win over Liberty Center in NWOAL girls soccer Tuesday at Pifer Field.
Evergreen is 1-0 in league play, while after a 1-0 win over Wauseon, the Tigers fall to 1-1.
Peyton Armey put LC on top 10 minutes into the contest when she went down the right side into the corner, crossed her defender, then scored on the short side for a 1-0 lead.
That margin doubled seven minutes later.
Aleah Minnich lofted a pass from midfield that got up into the gusting winds and when the sphere bounced at the football goal line, it went high enough to get over Wilson’s head for the Tigers’ second goal.
The score remained the same until 5:40 was left in the half.
With the Vikings on a corner kick, Raegan Radel’s kick caromed off a Tiger into the net to chop the Tiger lead in half.
“We had a defensive plan going against the wind in the first half,” explained Coach Radel. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out for the majority of the first half. Thank goodness they woke up and Raegan smacked that corner off one of their girls to get us going. That completely changed the momentum.”
Then six minutes into the second half Lydia Gleckler raced into the goal box on the right and was taken down on a shot attempt to create a penalty kick which Radel blew past Tarryn Hollenbaugh to knot the game.
Evergreen had a number of attempts, keeping the pressure on with the wind at their back, and put in the game-winner 11 minutes later.
Radel sent another corner to the backside where Huntzinger sidewinded the bouncing ball from about hip high into the back of the net.
“We switched up our formation some because we knew we could attack,” said Coach Radel. “I can’t say enough about Kara. We put her on the backside and told her to just get a body on it and she got it in”.
Liberty Center grabbed some momentum in the last 10 minutes, holding the ball in the Evergreen end but Wilson stoned Alyssa Giesige then made three more saves to keep the Vikings ahead.
“Hannah is getting better each game,” expressed Radel. “She still makes a couple mistakes as a young goalie but all in all she keeps making progress.”
Evergreen is now 2-2-1 on the year and plays Ottawa Hills next Tuesday at Pifer Field.