AVON LAKE — For most soccer players, scoring three goals in a match against your archrival would be a career highlight. For Amherst freshman Ally Perkins, well, it may just be a sign of things to come.
Perkins scored once in the first half, helping the Comets erase a 1-0 deficit against Avon Lake, and added two more after the break, guiding Amherst to a 4-1 win in Southwestern Conference play Wednesday night.
“Tonight was a lot of fun,” Perkins said. “It’s a great privilege to get a chance to play on the varsity as a freshman and to play against the upperclassmen. Avon Lake has a great team, and I couldn’t have scored those goals without the help of my teammates. It was a team effort tonight.”
And a solid team effort at that.
Amherst, which improved to 6-1-1 overall and 3-1 in the SWC, wore out the Avon Lake Memorial Field turf on its side in each half. The Comets outshot the Shoregals 16-6 and played keep away with the ball all night long.
Only one problem. They couldn’t seem to find the back of the Avon Lake net.
The Shoregals scored first, as junior Emily O’Conner cut through the box and scored from 10 yards out, slipping a shot on the left side and past Amherst goalie Lizzie Keller at the 27:38 mark.
Amherst missed several point-blank shots, either being turned away by the crossbar and sidebars, or being hauled in by Avon Lake senior keeper Abby Rogers.
That was until the 9:01 mark of the first half, when Perkins took a pass from senior Dominica Essi on a restart, and fired a shot past Keller from 5 yards out on the left of the box.
“That’s just how soccer is sometimes, you have to get a little lucky,” Amherst coach Jim Fossie said. “If you work hard and prepare, sometimes that luck goes your way a little bit.
“Avon Lake came out strong, and we told the ladies that they had to step it up after that first goal. They responded. We have a lot of great girls and a lot of talent. We have speed, and were able to sub in and keep fresh legs. We used that to our advantage.”
Perkins needed just 15 seconds of the second half to put the Comets in front for good, scoring from 15 yards out on the left side to give Amherst a 2-1 advantage.
A goal from sophomore Rachel Johnston at the 21:29 mark, and Perkins’ third with just 1:00 remaining rounded out the scoring for the Comets.
“We played to our speed a little bit, here and there, but we also know how to work the ball to get our speed going,” Fossie said. “We’re trying to do a lot of different things (on offense), and the girls are picking up on it real well. Avon Lake has a great team, and they know how to work the ball on this turf. But we like to play the ball on the ground, too, so playing on the turf is kind of an advantage for us as well.”
Avon Lake coach Daegen Duvall, who watched his team slip to 1-4-1 and 1-2 in the SWC, had nothing but praise for the Comets.
“They were definitely the better side tonight, fully committed,” he said. “They beat us to the ball and wanted it more, so hats off to them. They will be an SWC contender all season long.
“Other than the one shot that went for us, I don’t think we got another shot within 25 yards the rest of the night. (Celine Burgos) really did a good job of directing their defense. They completely dominated the ball all night.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.