First Posted: 9:00 pm - April 6th, 2016 Updated: 9:18 pm - April 6th, 2016.
By Pete Hayes - firstname.lastname@example.org
EDWARDSVILLE — When Marquette’s Annabelle Copeland scored late to tie Wednesday night’s soccer game at Edwardsville, it set in motion a series of events that had EHS coach Abby Comerford relieved – and Marquette coach Steve Mitchell proud, no matter what.
Edwardsville’s Allysiah Belt broke that 1-1 tie with 1:25 remaining on the clock, leading the Tigers to a 2-1 victory at the District 7 Sports Complex.
“This shows something about how resilient our girls can be,” Comerford said. “When (Marquette) tied it late, we could have just said, “Oh well, we’ll tie them,’ but that’s not what they did.
“I thought we dominated most of the game, but we didn’t finish our chances and Marquette did. But our girls never quit battling.”
Belt booted in a bounding ball on a wild play that started when Megan Bowman crossed the ball from about 35 yards out. The ball bounced, deflected of the shoulder of Marquette defender Ketaura Ngwa and Marquette goalie Lauren Fischer got a hand on it, tipping it off the crossbar. But the ball landed at Belt’s feet and she scored.
“I’ll say this, Edwardsville reacted to us tying the game the way a team should react,” Mitchell said. “Instead of dropping their heads, they raced in and grabbed the ball and ran it back up to the center circle for the kickoff.”
Marquette (4-5-1) has now lost three games this season on the District 7 artificial turf – all in the closing moments. The Explorers lost to Triad 2-1 on a goal with 15 seconds remaining and fell to O’Fallon 2-1 on a goal with 35 seconds left. Both of those games came in the season-opening Metro Cup tournament.
Wednesday against Edwardsville, Marquette had tied the game 1-1 when Annabelle Copeland blasted in a long drive from about 30 yards out in the 74th minute of play.
“I think we maybe were relieved – that we had come back for at least a tie,” Mitchell said. “But instead of getting Edwardsville down, it fired them up.”
The Tigers (7-2-1) created plenty of scoring chances, outshooting the Explorers 16-7 and holding a 6-3 corner-kick advantage. But they found themselves in need of Belt’s heroics in the closing moments.
“It’s a big win for us,” Comerford said. “To come back and get the win like that after dominating is a plus. We get the win, but also hopefully learn a lesson about finishing.”
After the teams battled to a scoreless tie at halftime, the Tigers’ Abigail Crabtree gave Edwardsville a 1-0 lead early in the second half. She took an assist from Bowman and buried a shot to the corner from about 20 yards out.
“That’s happened to us a lot this season,” Mitchell said. “We have had trouble getting restarted after halftime and we paid for it.”
The Tigers appeared headed for a 1-0 win after Crabtree’s goal. But Copeland corralled a deflection off an Edwardsville defender and blasted a rocket to tie it. It was her fifth goal of the season to go with four assists.
“(Copeland) hit a good shot for them,” Comerford said. “I knew they weren’t going to quit and one goal was all they needed to tie.”
And one more was all the Tigers needed for the victory.
“We’re 4-5, but all five losses have been to larger schools – very good larger schools,” Mitchell said. “That’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. We play as many tough teams as we can schedule. It’s been that way forever with Marquette soccer.
“You learn from playing stronger teams. In the long run, I think it makes us strong, as long as we learn from it.”
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