EATON TWP. — Lexy Alston doesn’t miss many one-on-one opportunities, but Midview goalie Izzy Patarini came up with a diving save when staring her down in the first half Wednesday night.
Alston wasn’t about to let it happen twice.
The Amherst forward made an adjustment when she got a second one-on-one early in the second half. Instead of taking a direct shot, she looped it over Patarini. It proved to be the only goal the Comets needed in a 1-0 Southwestern Conference win.
The Comets improved to 4-1, 3-0 in the league. Midview fell to 4-1, 2-1.
“My coaches just told me to take a chance, so that’s what I did and it paid off,” Alston said. “This win right here is a real pump up for the rest of the season.
“This is a win we wanted, and now we’ve got to look forward to all the games following.”
Both defenses played strong — in different ways. For the Middies, Patarini rattled off save after save, eight total and six in the first half, as Amherst strung together eight shots — six on goal — in the first half alone.
Amherst’s offense cooled off after it scored. Of its next nine shots, only two were on goal. Patarini snuffed many other opportunities before they could get going.
“I was thinking about my team the whole time I was playing,” Patarini said. “That goal made me more determined to keep the others out. We’re definitely going to use this as more motivation and we’re going to use this to keep winning.”
The Comets’ front line helped keep pressure off goalie Ainsley Steele, limiting the Middies to just one first-half shot and seven for the game.
But midfielder Stephanie Sturgeon and forward Autumn Vance began to break through late for Midview, with Sturgeon feeding Vance a couple of beautiful looks to set her up deep in the box. While Vance was able to get off a couple of shots, the Amherst line held strong. The shots Vance did get off were saved by Steele, who had four on the night.
“This was kind of like a playoff atmosphere,” Amherst coach Gary Gonzalez said. “Defense is something I stress a lot to the team. We have three shutouts in a row now. We have a hard-working group. If someone doesn’t make a play, someone is always covering for them.”
But when the Comets needed a goal, they fed Alston. It looked like it was going to pay off in the first half when she broke free in the box and got a great shot. She fired, but Patarini managed a diving punch to allow her defense to clear the ball.
Amherst’s Elley Vorhees had a good look with a header, set up by a corner from Alston, with 5:30 left in the half, but once again Patarini was there, catching the attempt. Midview’s offense then broke through with its first shot attempt of the game at the 2:40 mark.
Alston didn’t need long after halftime to find another chance, taking the ball and weaving through the Midview line to create another one-on-one. Patarini said Alston cut a different way to create the space she needed.
It turned out to be all Amherst needed, too.
“That’s a great team and a great coach,” Midview coach John Bena said. “We’re aspiring to be that. I loved the way our team responded. We tried to do some formations in the first half that weren’t working, so we made some adjustments. You fall down 1-0, let a great player go one time … but I loved the way we responded. It’s part of the learning process.”
Amherst 1, Midview 0
GOALS: (A) Lexy Alston (43:25)
SHOTS: Amherst 18, Midview 7
SHOTS ON GOAL: Amherst 9, Midview 7
SAVES: (A) Ainsley Steele 4; (M) Izzy Patarini 8
FOULS: Amherst 7, Midview 10
YELLOW CARDS: Amherst 0, Midview 1
RED CARDS: Amherst 0, Midview 0
PENALTY KICKS: Amherst 0, Midview 0
CORNER KICKS: Amherst 2, Midview 3
FREE KICKS: Amherst 10, Midview 7
GOAL KICKS: Amherst 8, Midview 12
JUNIOR VARSITY: Midview, 2-0