Lady Hawks get offensive in shutout of West Holmes

Lady Hawks get offensive in shutout of West Holmes
Dave Mast

Hiland’s Mallory Stutzman tries to kick around West Holmes’ Sydney Krownapple during the cross-county girls soccer game at West Holmes. The Lady Hawks built an early lead and road it to a 5-0 win.


Hiland brought its offensive shoes to the girls’ cross-county soccer game at West Holmes High School Saturday, Oct. 10, where the Lady Hawks fired off a 5-0 win over the Lady Knights.

The Holmes County teams locked horns evenly through the first dozen minutes of play, thanks in large part to West Holmes freshman keeper Avery Arnold, who staved off a number of Lady Hawks’ attacks.

But when Kate Bodiker located teammate Gabby Schlabach in the box, Schlabach delivered, slamming home the opening goal in the 14th minute of play. Schlabach would score 12 minutes later off an assist from Paige Gertz and Hiland took a 2-0 lead into intermission.

Hiland came out of the gate firing shots to start the second half, and for a while Arnold was an absolute wall, keeping her team in the hunt by flicking a shot over the top of the net and then knocking away or gobbling up saves on some seriously good Hiland efforts.

However, she couldn’t continue that torrid pace and the Lady Hawks struck again in the 57th minute when Joselynne Horne fed Kate Kaufman, who buried a bullet into the upper left 90 for a 3-0 lead. Kaufman then fed Kristen Miller on a pretty play in the 69th minute and Kaufman then broke loose on her own and smoked a shot in to finish the scoring and the 5-0 Hiland win.

“I thought our defense played really well today,” said Hiland coach Conner Lee. “You have to be pleased any time you’re able to produce a shutout, and it makes life a lot simpler for the offense knowing they don’t have to be perfect.”

Lee said missing a few opportunities early could have given the Lady Knights some momentum, but Schlabach’s two scores allowed his Lady Hawks to settle in and play with confidence.

“Part of our message to the girls today was taking advantage of our opportunities early on,” Lee said. “We felt if we could get a lead out of the gate, we could rely on our defense to do the rest.”

Hiland dominated the statistics in improving to 6-5-4, taking 25 shots on goal compared to seven for the Lady Knights. Arnold would make a whopping 15 saves while Hiland keeper Itzelle Guzman would make five.

Considering Arnold was playing forward this season until keeper Mia Halverson was lost to injury, the freshman keeper has quickly earned the praise of her head coach.

“Avery selflessly stepped into this role, “said WHHS coach Schuyler Snyder. “She is hard on herself, but she has done a remarkable job. She is a hard worker and she always gives us 100 percent. We can’t ever be mad at her effort and she kept us in the game early in the second half when we could have fallen way behind.”

In falling to 4-10 on the campaign, Snyder said her team needs to gain more consistency if it hopes to do anything in the postseason.

“We have to just play simple soccer,” Snyder said of her very young team. West Holmes sports just one senior and one junior, so the learning curve has been large for Snyder’s crew.

“The little things kind of get us, and then we end up trying to do too much at one time, and that is tough to do with a young group like we have. All that does is complicate the game for us, so we just have to get back to simple soccer.”

As for postseason play, Lee said creating a difficult and demanding schedule has not helped his team’s record, but it certainly has created growth and the Lady Hawks should be battle-tested come tournament time.

“It may hurt us in the seeding, but I think our schedule has prepared us for the rigors of tournament play,” Lee said. “This year the seeding may actually be a bit more important than ever because the higher seed will host games all the way through district, but our No. 1 goal was to prepare this team for wherever we play in the tournament and we have done that. We’ve taken some lumps from some really good teams, but it has us ready, which is really important for a younger group like we have.”

This cross-county game has been a spirited one over the past number of years, and with both teams being on the young side this year, it could have stacked up to be a game in which teams were trying to take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes. It turned out to be Hiland’s ability to get the ball deep inside the box on offense that created a large number of opportunities.

“It’s tough to throw this many freshmen into varsity action and ask them to play with the speed of the game,” Snyder said. “But that is our reality and we have to learn to keep up.”

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