Girls soccer: Wheaton North, Nazareth play to scoreless draw
The scoring opportunities were there in the first half for the Wheaton North girls soccer team Monday morning against Nazareth.
The Falcons couldn't capitalize, but when momentum shifted in the second half to Nazareth, junior goalkeeper Hanley Elftmann stepped up in a big way, along with her defensive back line.
Wheaton North and Nazareth played to a scoreless tie, but the defense turned away 11 second-half shots by the host Roadrunners, including 8 on goal. Elftmann saved 8, all in the second half.
"Recently for us, we've been playing really well in the first half and teetering off in the second half," Elftmann said. "So I feel like that kind of happened today, and (the Roadrunners) just had a really good game of connecting in the second half."
Added senior defender Kristen Szumski: "One thing that we're starting to get better at but continuing to work on is the fact of, if one of our outside backs is up wide, the other one tucks in and helps as a three-back instead of a two-back. That's one thing we're starting to get better at."
In a game that started at 38 degrees and rather windy at kickoff, the Falcons had a several first-half scoring opportunities, the best of which was a Szumski penalty shot in the sixth minute that Nazareth goalkeeper Sarah Blair knocked away. Blair saved the rebound shot.
Wheaton North (1-4-1) sophomore midfielder Izzy Fenn came just as close in the 22nd minute, powering a shot off the left post 15 yards out.
But after the 10-minute halftime, and with the wind at their backs, the Roadrunners proceeded to pepper Elftmann with shots.
In the 45th minute senior midfielder Sophia Cullotta raced down the left side wide open and fired a shot that went wide right, grimacing as she knew she missed a golden opportunity.
Five minutes later, Elftmann fell on a Nazareth free kick that was intended for sophomore striker Adriana Berruti.
Turns out, Elftmann was just getting started. Two minutes after that, a Nazareth free kick bounced off the crossbar, right to sophomore Adriana Berruti, who proceeded to kick it over the crossbar. But then Elftmann got into the act by stopping a point-blank shot from the left side.
Wheaton North's fans had to hold their breath in the 79th minute, as Berruti came down the right side, passed inside to Cullotta, who fired a shot high and wide of the net.
"Hanley had to make, I'd say, three good saves in that second half," Wheaton North coach Tim McEvilly said. "In part the defense created some of their own problems, to be honest with you, but the good thing they did was they defended in numbers to help clear things up."
Wheaton North's best scoring opportunity in the second half came in the 48th minute, when there was an all-out scrum In front of the Nazareth goal on a Falcons free kick. But they couldn't capitalize, getting just a single shot on goal in that sequence.
Shots were even at 13 for the teams, though Nazareth had 10 on goal compared to 6 for Wheaton North. Blair had 5 saves for Nazareth (1-3-2).