ELIDA — After a strong first season at the helm at Elida in 2017 – a campaign which saw Elida finish second in the Western Buckeye League (6-3, 13-6 overall) and eventually lose a shootout to Wapakoneta in the Division II district final – head soccer coach Elise Jenkins is trying to build on that momentum.
In Wednesday’s season opener against visiting Riverdale, Elida threw a group of underclassmen out on the field, along with some seasoned veterans, and pulled out a 3-0 win over the Falcons.
“The first thing I told them tonight is, ‘Ladies, the last time we were on this field, it was the district final. Take that same energy – I don’t care what it is – and put the same effort into it’,” Jenkins said. “I think we can be that sleeper team. We’re young. We lost five seniors that all started. I think we could be overlooked. If we continue to build with these younger girls and keep that confidence, I think we can do some good things.”
Coach Jenkins wants to see a little faster start from her squad this season. Elida’s first shot on goal Wednesday night did not happen until nearly 18 minutes into the game.
Sophomore Brooke Reese drove a deflected ball into the back of the net to give Elida the 1-0 lead with a little more than 22 minutes left in the first half.
The Bulldogs recorded their second goal at the 16:52 mark, on a nice feed from senior Jency Jenkins (three shots on goal, one assist) to senior Cienna Kuhn, who drove the ball into the back of the net with a header.
In the first half, Elida had four shots on goal, while Riverdale managed just two shots.
“I told the girls, with the numbers we have – we’re low on numbers and we’re young – that we have to score in the first five to ten minutes,” Coach Jenkins said. “We have to be an offensive team.”
In the second half, both teams struggled to get clean shots at the goal. Elida had two more shots on goal – including a breakaway goal by sophomore Marley Savill with a little more than three minutes left to play in the game.
“I think in the second half, we got tired,” Coach Jenkins said. “I thought they (Riverdale) controlled the ball more (in the second half). They brought their outside backs up. So, they really pushed, offensively. They were playing all types of different positions. This was a hard win. We only had three shutouts last year, and it was good to see right off the bat, that we get a shutout.”
Coach Jenkins is shuffling some of her veteran players around early on, hoping to find that right combination on the field.
“Baylie Moening (Sr.) is a player that has played defense her whole career, and now she’s playing like a center-mid,” Coach Jenkins said. “To take a different role on, that they are – it’s changing the type of dynamic with the team from last year to this year. The seniors had a lot of pressure to come out here with all of these freshmen and sophomores playing with them. I think now they see they can rely on them. That takes a whole lot of pressure off of them.”
For Riverdale (2-1), this was the first loss of the season.
“We changed up the formation in the second half,” Riverdale coach Eric Rodriguez said. “I think that really started to hold them up a little bit. We’ve been playing pretty flat in the first half, in the two games before this. They (Elida) are a good team. So, when they get ahead of you, it’s hard to come back.”
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