Roundup: Niles, Brandywine eliminated in opening round
All season the Niles soccer team struggled to put the ball in the back of the net.
The opening round of the Division 2 district tournament was no different, as visiting St. Joseph blanked the Vikings 2-0 to advance to Thursday’s semifinals at Three Rivers High School.
The Bears defeated Niles 9-0 back on May 5 in a SMAC West Division match. The contest lasted just until halftime.
Fast forward 25 days, and the Bears again traveled to Niles.
The Vikings, behind some excellent goalkeeping from junior Avy James, managed to handle the potent Bears attack and fall 6-0 Tuesday evening. With 28 saves on the night, James used her athleticism to frustrate St. Joe, who seemed like they were looking to end the game in similar mercy fashion.
Niles held the Bears at bay the first 19 minutes of the game, as the defense and James blocked countless amounts of crosses and shots. St. Joe finally broke through and then tallied on three more to make the halftime score 4-0.
“Our defense did an excellent job the first 19 minutes,” said Niles Coach Katie Czirr. “We pushed through the whole game and worked very hard.”
St. Joe would tally two more quick goals in a matter of a minute in the second half to see of the victory and advance.
Altogether, James has 229 saves on the season. That was with missing five games this season because of a concussion and illness.
“She is extremely athletic,” Czirr said. “That gives her the ability to make high saves and low dives, which she makes look easy but is extremely difficult to do. She has a unique personality that makes her a perfect fit for a goalkeeper. Not only that but she is very positive to her teammates, very coachable, and asks questions in practice and is a standout in the classroom.”
ST. JOSEPH 4, NILES 0
St. Joseph 4, Niles 0
SJ: Katie Koch 19th minute (Morgan Parsons assist).
SJ: Megan Corbe 26th minute (Shivani Jain assist).
SJ: Mikayla Ball 28th minute (Jain assist).
SJ: Claire Stebbins 38th minute (Alyssa Adams assist).
SJ: Olivia Adent 54th minute (Corbe assist).
SJ: Koch 55th minute.
Niles 28 (Avy James).
Varsity records: St. Joseph 13-5-2, Niles 4-13-2.
Division 3 soccer
Brandywine was eliminated from the Division 3 tournament by Bridgman in overtime.
Mikaela Owen scored twice to lead the Bees to a 3-1 victory over the Bobcats.
Savanna Tate had the other goal for Bridgman, which advances to face Michigan Lutheran at 6 p.m. in the second semifinal at Cassopolis Thursday.
BRIDGMAN 3, BRANDYWINE 1 (OT)
Bridgman 1, Brandywine 1
Mikaela Owen 2, Savanna Tate.