Kratky's goals catapult Lady Wrecker booters to 2nd round
Published 10:52 pm, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Lauren Kratky may be renowned for her defense but in the first round of the Class LL tournament, she was the Staples girls soccer team's offense.
Kratky, a senior fullback, scored two goals on Tuesday on free kicks to give 11th-seeded Staples a 2-1 victory over 22nd-seeded Southington at Wakeman Field, the Lady Wreckers' home away from home.
"I'm surprised and it feels great," Kratky said. "I took two steps back and kicked it. It was a great team effort. It's nice to get the win. I don't care who scores, as long as we get the win."
With the win, Staples raised its record to 12-4-3 and played at sixth-seeded Naugatuck (12-2-1) yesterday after press time. Southington ended its season at 5-7-5.
"It's really big and exciting as seniors to get to the second round," Lady Wreckers senior tri-captain Shannon Moss said. "A big part of the game was the wind. They had it in the first half and got it to their forwards but in the second half, we kept it on the ground."
All three goals in the game were scored on free kicks. The Lady Knights used the wind to their advantage in the first half and outshot Staples 5-4. Southington also had a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks before the break and took a 1-0 lead when senior Kristy Solomon scored on a free kick with 14 minutes remaining in the half.
"I was saying to them at the break that we're a second-half team," Lady Wreckers Coach Nikki Ross said. "The wind took its toll and all three goals coming on free kicks is unusual."
Staples was a different team and finished the game with a 4-3 advantage in corner kicks and outshot the Lady Knights, 11-10. The Lady Wreckers did it despite missing senior tri-captain sweeper Kelly Bohling late in the game. Bohling was instrumental in containing Southington when she was in but separated a ligament in her right shoulder (AC separation) when she successfully executed a slide tackle. After the tackle, the opponent fell on her right clavicle.
"It's not a good way to go out but I have faith in my team will go all the way and I'll cheer for them from the sidelines," Bohling said.
One positive for Staples was junior Alex Weiner, who ably filled in for Bohling on defense.
"I think Alex played well [against Southington]," Bohling said. "She proved herself this season and she will do fine."
Lady Wrecker senior Nikki Brill won a few balls in the midfield and sent in crosses to juniors Abbey Lake and Ali Crofts, who created many chances as well. Crofts also won a few balls and blazed past the Lady Knight defenders and set up Staples senior tri-captain Jaclyn Katz. Although Katz tried to create space and had a few shots, Southington followed its scouting report to a tee and was all over Katz, who is the Lady Wreckers' leading scorer, and had at least two girls on her when she prepared to attack the net.
"We created more opportunities in the second half and got the momentum behind us," Ross said. "We had trouble doing it in the first half."
Moss won a ball in the midfield and helped Staples earn a corner kick, which Kratky took. Lady Knight senior goalie Michaela Melilio (seven saves) made the save on the kick and held onto the ball, preventing a tenacious Crofts from knocking in the equalizer.
Following the Lady Wreckers' chances, Southington had a chance to double its lead with sophomore Erica Kosienski going in on a breakaway, but Staples junior goalie Jessie Ambrose (seven saves) made the save and pushed it wide.
"If we lose the ball, everyone has to get back there as fast as we can," Ambrose said. "I'm the last person back and I have to get there. The key for breakaways is to cut down the angles and be bigger than the goal."
After Ambrose's save, Moss almost tied it with a shot from the top of the 18-yard box but Melilio caught it.
"She's a good keeper but if I kicked it more to the left or right of her, I would have scored," Moss said.
Bohling followed with a solid defensive play and crossed it into sophomore Turner Block, who pushed it to the net, only to be stopped by a Lady Knight defender. Also making defensive plays for the Lady Wreckers were senior Nicole Rothschild, Kratky, junior Abby Fagan and sophomore Siri Andrews.
With 22:14 left, Kratky tied it when she boomed in a free kick from 45 yards out off the left wing with the ball eluding Melilio's hands and going to the top of the net.
"The weather helped," Kratky said. "She's a good goalie but I got it over her hands and out of her reach. We needed the goal, I took two deep breaths and kicked it."
Lake constantly blazed past Southington's defenders and relentlessly attacked the net after Kratky's equalizer. The speedy junior, who was set up by Crofts on one play, would have scored if Melilio didn't make some nice saves on her. Melilio also caught Block's header.
The Lady Wreckers continued to attack and drew a corner kick. Southington successfully stopped the kick and countered with a breakaway. Ambrose went back and slapped the ball away from the net.
"Siri stopped the girl from getting her shot off but it went behind us," Ambrose said. "I saw another girl come in but I got there fast enough. The ball was on the line and I had to side tackle her."
Kratky then boomed home a kick from 40 yards out on the right wing to give Staples a 2-1 lead with 6:10 to go.
"I tried to put it in the far side and if it didn't go in, I'm confident someone would have finished for us," Kratky said. "I'm glad it worked out the way it did."
The Lady Knights made one last gasp to tie it but Kratky was there to break up the play.
"You got to hustle back and throw your body at it," Kratky said. "I scored two goals and didn't want to give one up and I went hard at it."
Teams that win these type of games sometimes catch fire in the tournament and find destiny on their side. The Lady Wreckers hope they will be one of those teams.
"I hope it brings us good luck into our next game and that it's a confidence builder," Ross said. "I'm proud of them for fighting back in a game that could have gone either way."