With two senior defenders injured and with a lead to hold onto in the second half against rival Batavia, Geneva's girls soccer team found a new place to do most of its defending -- Batavia's half of the field.
Moving from an even first half which ended with the teams tied 1-1, the Vikings first got a goal from Megan Fitz, then held possession in the attacking half of the field for most of the final 30 minutes of Tuesday's Upstate Eight Conference River Division match to complete a 2-1 victory.
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"Two of my four-year defensive center backs were out," Geneva coach Megan Owens said, referring to Annie Waldoch and Molly Stanfa, who did not play in Tuesday's match. "The girls responded. I felt we dominated the run of play. We had plenty of opportunities. We never stopped fighting. I was tremendously proud of them. They rose to the occasion."
The shift from the first half was marked. Geneva (8-3-2, 2-0) opened the match attacking and took the lead after 12 minutes when Taylor Williams volleyed a Maggie Bodine corner kick into the net.
"I saw the ball coming over the goalie's head," Williams said. "I knew I needed to get on it. We needed to start strong and to get a goal first."
That lead lasted 10 minutes before Tori Renfus latched onto an Alison Grimm throw-in and scored a scrambling goal from close range.
"That was great, the girls definitely responded," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "Then we kind of stuck with it a little bit. It was a kind of a hustle goal, and I'd take those all day."
Batavia (6-6, 2-3) continued to attack through the half, and Megan McEachern forced Geneva keeper Sam Hauser to make a save 6 minutes before halftime.
From the start of the second half, Geneva moved to attack, and that early pressure ended when Fitz scored from the left side of the penalty area in the fourth minute of the half.
"They kind of switched," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "At the start, they were playing with two in the middle and we were doing pretty well with that. Then they switched to three up top and three in the middle, and then we weren't doing so well with that."
Then Geneva's midfield and defense moved forward and limited Batavia's chances.
"We just fought hard," Owens said. "That's what we talked about at halftime. They had to fight hard for this. Our games later in the week weren't as important if we didn't get the result today."
Of players who created a series of chances was Michaela Loebel, whose junior season was blighted with a knee injury. Though she did not score, Loebel had a variety of chances at goal.
"She played great," Owens said. "She's getting back into it after her ACL. She's gaining confidence with every game, and with that confidence comes creativity."
One of the reasons Loebel did not score was Batavia's second half keeper Jenny Scara, who made a string of saves, not only from Loebel but on other chances as well.
"(Scara) played great in the second half," Gianfrancesco said. "She came off her line. You could hear her all the way over here. She definitely saved several goals. She was very active and vocal and that's great, especially for a freshman."
In the final minutes, Batavia surged to attack, and had the ball in the goalmouth -- but Williams cleared the ball off the line and moments later, drove the ball upfield to remove pressure before the final whistle.
"Just playing both ends of the field, you have to do what you can to get the win," Williams said. "Playing center mid, you have to go back and go forward and work hard."