SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP – Shawnee’s defense formed a wall in the back.
And that worked out just fine until the Indians offense found its way to the net.
Shawnee posted a 2-0 girls soccer victory over St. Marys Monday at Shawnee.
Alaina Behnke and Bella Fusillo scored for Shawnee.
Shawnee is 3-2-1, 2-1 in the Western Buckeye League. St. Marys is 2-2-1, 2-1 in the WBL.
“This was huge for us,” Behnke said. “It’s a really big win for us and it’s super important for our advancement in the WBL.’’
The key for the Indians was their defense. Their flat-back four defense made it tough for St. Marys to get shots inside the 18-yard box.
Leading the Shawnee defense was sophomore center defender Madi Mason, who gobbled up 21 stop-and-clears.
“We were talking and communicating back there,” Mason said. “We knew we had to watch out for number 22 (Josie Bowman). She’s a really good player.’’
Also playing strong defense for the Indians were center defender Emily Hoffman and outside defenders Madi Wohlgamuth and Samantha Robertson.
“We switched up the formation in the back a little bit and those kids did a great job,” Shawnee coach Caroline O’Brien said. “We had a tough road game at Wapak (a loss) last week and we had to come back from that and still try to be a driving force in the league.’’
Shawnee junior goalkeeper Grace O’Connor came up with nine saves, including a highlight-film, leap-and-tip over the bar save off the foot of Josie Bowman in the first half.
Shawnee got on the board first just before the close of the first half.
Behnke, who was playing the midfield, came up and pressured a St. Marys defender on the edge of the 18-yard box.
The defender attempted to clear the ball, but her kick ricocheted off the body of Behnke and landed in the heart of the box.
Behnke sprinted to the ball and had a one-on-one with St. Marys goalkeeper Aliya Patterson. Behnke fired her shot from 10-yards out into the upper-left corner of the net.
“I’m used to playing defense, but I’ve been playing up on offense lately,” Behnke said. “I knew I had to be right up on their defender if we wanted to score a goal. … It was just me and her (the keeper). I took a breath and kicked it in.’’
O’Brien added, “She’s (Behnke) a utility player. You can put her anywhere and she’ll excel.’’
That gave Shawnee a 1-0 lead with 1:45 left in the first half.
Shawnee all-WBL/second team all-state midfielder Bella Fusillo was smothered all night long by St. Marys midfielder Sydney Cisco. Fusillo barely could find room to breathe.
But with 30:59 to go, Fusillo’s sister, Sophia Fusillo, controlled the ball on the goal line in the left corner of the box. Sophia fed Alaina in the heart of the box, who turned and chipped it into the net.
That gave the Indians a 2-0 lead.
“It’s like a sister act and we were just practicing that on Saturday and in pre-game,” O’Brien said of the Fusillo to Fusillo play from the goal line. It was a beautiful assist to her sister for the finish.’’
St. Marys outshot Shawnee, 11-10. Both teams had two corner kicks.