A match that had 100 minutes of scoreless soccer had a story of redemption in the game’s final moments at the expense of the Grand Island soccer team.
Columbus’ Tyler Strong, who missed a penalty kick early in the match, had the match-clinching shootout goal to defeat the Islanders after they were only able to put one of their four shootout attempts in the back of the net.
With the 1-0 loss to the Class B, No. 7 Discoverers at Memorial Stadium, the Islanders have now dropped their last two contests with big home matchups against rival Kearney and Class A, No. 2 Creighton Prep looming this week.
“You’re trying to feel each other out and get an idea of what the flow of the game is. We had our shots and they definitely had some, too,” Grand Island associate head coach John Kenna said. “The first couple minutes, we really played hard with a couple of really good scoring chances.”
Jose Flores sunk the first attempt in the shootout for the Islanders, but Steven Castillo, Brian Covarrubias and Mario Canela were not as successful. David Acros, Jorge Pedraza, and finally Strong all scored in the shootout for Columbus.
The Islanders won the only other match this season that has gone to a shootout. That win came in the season opener against Lincoln East.
“Making one out of four is kind of disappointing, but it shouldn’t have really got to that point,” Kenna said. “Even with the two overtimes, I thought we played in their end (of the field) most of the time.”
As Kenna mentioned, GISH had several shots on goal in the first several minutes but were mostly shut down for the remainder of the first half. The match remained tied even after Strong got his chance at a penalty kick that he rocketed off the right upright post.
Including Strong’s errant penalty kick, the final five minutes of the first half were wild, with both teams getting looks on goal that were unsuccessful.
Time melted away in the second half without substantial chances to get on the board. Finally. In the final 15 minutes of regulation, the Islanders had a pair of corner kicks. One missed badly and the other was so close the crowd momentarily thought it had actually scored. The kick was from Castillo and it hit the side of the goal.
Columbus’ Jesus Adame and Luis Tovar each had two shots on goal in the final five minutes of regulation that just missed.
The match plunged into overtime and Islanders nearly scored when Canela set up Manuel Corado Jr. in front the goal. Corado Jr. didn’t get a clean boot on the ball and whiffed.
Kenna said he was proud of the defense that had some new players involved due to injury and attributed the evenness of the matchup to experience.
“Both of the teams are used to playing with one another in various clubs and they know each other pretty well,” he said. “Our styles are similar as well and they’re a well-coached team, too.”
In front of the Islanders stands an opportunity. Putting the losses to Lincoln Southwest in the Heartland Athletic Conference final and to the Discoverers behind them seems easy if they’re able to defend home field against Kearney and Creighton Prep.
“We’ve got a big week. The one positive is that they’re both at home,” Kenna said. “We’ve got some improvements that we definitely need to make.”
Columbus girls 3, Grand Island 0
It went down like most of the season has gone for the Grand Island girls soccer team. A flurry of goals from the opponent and a handful of its own missed chances.
GISH fell for the ninth time this season. This time around, it was to Class B, No. 7 Columbus. The Discoverers won 3-0, thanks to a pair of goals of senior Elli McMeekin to help Columbus snap a two-match skid while adding to the Islanders struggles.
Grand Island’s chances were limited as they went scoreless for the fifth time this season.
“We just couldn’t get the ball in,” Grand Island head coach Debora Carpenter said. “We started getting more attacks. A lot of the stuff that we’ve been working on, the girls are really starting to implement. Now, we just have to settle the ball down, get some more passes and make sure that we can get the ball in the back of the net.”
Columbus was attacking early and often and had several great shots on goal that were handled by Islander goalkeeper Jordan Gydesen, including a shot that bounced off Gydesen’s hands straight up in the air before harmlessly falling back into her arms.
The Islanders weren’t as lucky when Discoverer senior Caitlin Edzards delivered a perfect pass to a streaking McMeekin, who put the ball in the back of the net unabated.
The Islanders had two decent opportunities at goal that could have been the answer in the first half. One was shot was on a tip save from Discoverer goalkeeper Rachel Grisham and the other just missed on a corner kick attempt.
Columbus quickly made GISH pay.
McMeekin took the ball down the left wing, putting a move on Islander freshman Sydney Williams 20-yards out before scoring her second goal of the game. Moments later, Edzards delivered another effective pass down the middle of the field, this time to Kennedy Jones, who scored.
The Discovers had a multitude of chances in the second half but never added to their lead, while holding the Islanders back to earn their fourth shutout of the season. With the ease that the Discoverers scored their trio of goals, it looked like that more were inevitable. The Islander defense keyed in on McMeekin to help keep Columbus off the board after the Jones goal.
“We talked about how to mark (McMeekin) a lot better and Stephanie (Barraza) did a nice job as well as the other girls as far as covering her and making a difference,” Carpenter said. “They pulled her back away in their defense and finally they pulled her off. That made a big difference on her impact.”
Carpenter explained that because of the youth on the team, they’ve tried to implement concepts, and have specific focuses with each game. Now the team is trying to put it all together and do what they can to finish the regular season on a high note.
“Now they’re seeing that they can do this,” Carpenter said. “With the spirit and what we saw today, I mean Columbus is a strong team. We wanted to score really bad and wanted to make a difference. I think that we accomplished a lot of great stuff today.”