Big second half lifts Niles to win over ChieftainsPublished 9:29pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Numerous scoring opportunities in the first half produced no goals Wednesday for the Niles girls soccer team against Dowagiac.
The Vikings put even more pressure on the Chieftains’ defense in the second half and were rewarded as Niles blanked Dowagiac, 4-0.
Niles girls soccer coach Jo Schau, who saw her team total six shots on goal and six corner kicks in the first 40 minutes, gave a halftime speech to her squad with one main message.
“Just finish,” said Schau when asked about what she told her team at the half. “The opportunities were there. We wanted to make sure our hard work paid off.”
The Vikings offensive outburst in the second half was led by the legs of Haley Akey and Abby Gaines. Akey and Gaines each scored and had an assist in the second half.
“Haley was with us last year as a ninth-grader,” Schau said. “She didn’t have a lot of looks last year. This year, we hope to get her a lot more looks. Abby Gaines has always been kind of a silent leader. She’s stepping up. There’s other girls too who are starting to learn their roles. We don’t have big team when it comes to numbers so everyone plays a very important role.”
Niles took a 1-0 lead after getting a short distance goal from Akey on an assist from Gaines with 38:44 left in the match.
Six minutes later, Akey assisted on Alyssa Middleton’s goal to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.
“In the first half, we pulled together as a team,” said Dowagiac coach Craig Black. “In the second half, we got tired and had a breakdown defensively with our outside mid and our defender on that side. They got two quick goals on us.
“Overall, I was pleased with our play. A third of our girls have never played soccer a day in their life. The girls have worked hard over the winter trying to get ready. I think we’ll have a good future.”
Niles got its final two goals from Kelsey Medlin and Gaines in the last 10 minutes.
The Vikings finished with a 17-1 edge on shots.
Niles did a nice job of bouncing back from Tuesday’s 7-0 loss to Kalamazoo Loy Norrix.
“I think we played with a pace that we forced to play with (against Kalamazoo Loy Norrix),” Schau said. “That really helped us for today’s game. Sometimes it’s tough to keep your head up after a game like that. We wanted to play with the same pace and see what we could do differently to make the ball roll our way. We played hard today, all the way to the end.”
Dowagiac’s lone shot on goal came from Anne Zebell from 15 yards with 30:50 left in the first half. The shot was stopped by Niles goalie Eva Nemeth.
“We lost a lot of players from last year,” Black said. “We’re inexperienced up front and we need to work on some things. We’ve got two or three girls trying to pull the team together defensively and offensively and it’s tough.”
Niles 0, Dowagiac 0
N – Haley Akey (Abby Gaines) 38:44
N – Alyssa Middleton (Akey) 32:44
N – Kelsey Medlin 10:12
N – Gaines 6:53
Shots on goal
Niles 17, Dowagiac 1
Niles 1 (Eva Nemeth)
Dowagiac 6 (Nichole Favela)
Niles 6, Dowagiac 0.
Niles 1-1, Dowagiac 0-1