Batavia can’t stop Oswego East’s Gulbrandsen

Senior forward Anya Gulbrandsen is the best goal scorer Oswego East has ever had.

She’s also one of the humblest.

The Wisconsin-bound Gulbrandsen became the Wolves’ all-time leading scorer earlier this week, surpassing 2017 graduate Taylor Peck, who went on to play at Indianapolis.

She bagged two more goals on Saturday to lead Oswego East to a 2-0 victory over Batavia. The first goal came on a tap-in off a pass from Riley Gumm with 4.7 seconds left in the first half.

Just a typical performance from someone who expects to score.

“Especially when you’re playing the 9 (center forward),” Gulbrandsen said. “Because of COVID, I think I’m the only girl to have played four years in a while, so that’s a lot of it, too.

“But it’s 100% my team. Most of my goals are just like the ones that I get to walk in, like the one Riley played in. She beat like four people and all I needed to do was just go like that.”

Gulbrandsen’s goals — the other came on a penalty kick with 2:32 left in the second half — and the stellar play of junior goalkeeper Maddie McGregor were enough for the Wolves (3-2) to hold off the host Bulldogs (2-2), who had the better of the play in the first half until Gulbrandsen broke through.

McGregor made all six of her saves, including two great diving stops on forward Natalie Warner, in the first half.

“Maddie McGregor makes me look bad in practice, seriously,” Gulbrandsen said. “You get nervous when you see the ball going down and then she makes a save.

“It kind of feels like a momentum killer when she makes a save and everyone is excited again. Then we go in transition.”

  Batavia’s Natalie Warner jumps for a header between Oswego East’s Emma Klosterman, left, and Kailey Smith during a girls soccer match on Saturday, March 23, 2024 in Batavia. Joe Lewnard/

The Wolves always do a good job of getting the ball to Gulbrandsen, who consistently delivers good plays if not in-depth quotes about her accomplishments. She leaves that to others.

“I think what makes her really dangerous is her vision and her creativity and her lack of fear in taking players on 1-on-1,” Oswego East coach Juan Leal said. “Her first touch is impeccable. She drives and she just has a killer mentality.”

All of which makes life difficult for defenders and goalkeepers. McGregor sees it up close every day in practice.

“She’s very quick,” McGregor said. “She has a really great first touch and then she reads the play very well.

“It’s not even about her footwork or her speed. It’s just she knows where people are around her at all times and she always knows how to get around them. She’s just very aware of her surroundings and I think not a lot of players have that, and that’s what makes her stand out from everybody else.”

That in turn makes the other Oswego East attackers more dangerous.

“It was difficult,” Batavia junior goalkeeper Reagan Sulaver said. “It was definitely hard to keep us organized because they were so mobile in the front.

“They’d always be hard tracking with our center backs, but we figured it out for most of the time. But then they did their thing, and it’s hard to stop them when they’re going.”

Indeed, after an evenly played first half, the Wolves dominated possession after halftime, outshooting the Bulldogs 13-2. Sulaver, a Western Michigan commit, had a great game and finished with eight saves, but it wasn’t enough.

“I thought the first half we had the better of the chances on frame and we should have scored probably three or four goals,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “Giving up a goal with four seconds left, that’s rough to chew on.

“That’s the cruel part of the game, and then we just really didn’t have much in the second half to kind of get anything. We were defending a lot, not linking a lot of passes up.”

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