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Thursday January 18, 2018

Girls soccer: Rams cool off Flames’ attack

By Mike Bush/News-Sentinel Sports Writer

Six days after scoring seven goals in its Tri-City Athletic League opener, the Lodi High girls soccer team was looking to continue moving the ball.

The Flames looked like they would get the momentum going again, forcing a penalty kick for a goal in Wednesday’s home game against St. Mary’s. But the Rams did their damage early on, which led to a 3-1 victory over the Flames at Don Rostomily Field.

Lodi (1-1 in the TCAL, 2-9 overall) cut into the Rams’ lead at 2-1 in the 65th minute. On a foul, Lodi forward Johna Schroeder lined up to take the penalty kick in front of St. Mary’s goalie Kisa Porotesano. But the goalie was whistled for encroachment during Schroeder’s attempt.

That set the stage for Lodi midfielder Amanda Harris, who booted the ball into the corner for what would be the Flames’ lone goal.

“You’re battling back at 2-1,” said Lodi coach Tim Stutz. “You’re fighting hard, we’ve stepped up ... they are just trying to keep the ball out of their (St. Mary’s) area.”

Added St. Mary’s coach Michelle Coleman, “The one penalty kick, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

In the 73rd minute, St. Mary’s (1-1 in the TCAL, 5-3-1) added its final goal of the game on a free kick. Rams midfielder Paola Quezada lofted the ball into the back of the Flames’ net.

Lodi had two shots on goal after St. Mary’s added its final goal of the game. But the Rams’ pressure attack on defense, anytime the Flames moved the ball near the Rams’ goal, forced Lodi to boot the ball out of bounds or forced quick shots.

“We have great leadership in the back line,” Coleman said. “They’ve done a good job.”

Lodi, which posted a 7-1 win over West in the TCAL opener on Jan. 12, scrambled for possession on the ball in the final seven minutes of the game. But the Rams’ defense stood together for the win.

St. Mary’s scored its second goal of the game at the 50th minute of the contest. With a loose ball near the Flames’ box, Rams forward Calli Ortega found the ball and slid the shot into the net for a 2-0 advantage.

“It’s hard to battle back from a 1-0 lead, then you give up another one right away,” Stutz said. “It’s very disheartening.”

After the first 32 minutes of the game was about both teams playing defense, the Rams found a way to the Flames’ goal to take a 1-0 at the 33rd minute mark. Coming off a pass, St. Mary’s midfielder Stephanie Torres was fouled, which set up a penalty kick. Torres’ line-drive shot hit the back of the net for the goal.

Paving the way on defense for most of the first half for the Flames were Schroeder, Harris, midfielders Shaina Hummel, Alexandria Khoury and Ashley Thorpe, and fullback Tabitha Little.

Schroeder played very well for the Flames, too. She had two shots on goal in the first half, but both chances sailed over the top part of the net and out of bounds.

“We had about six, seven opportunities in the first half,” Stutz said. “We played well.”

Some of the Flames’ players have been hit with illnesses, with some wanting to play the entire game. Stutz applauded the girls’ efforts. He also tipped his hat to the Rams for their strong play, which included holding the Flames to only one shot on goal — by Harris in the early minutes of the second half — of the game.

“Overall, I’m happy with the performance,” Stutz said. “We’ve had a tough pre-season. To them (St. Mary’s) it’s a big game for them. They played well together, they doubled-teamed in good spots and put us under pressure.”

Contact reporter Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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