Mavs Shutout Falcons 3-0

     The Lady Mavericks played their best football of the season as they took on a very good Nation Ford squad.  From the first whistle, both teams put everything they had into every play.  No loose ball went uncontested, no trap unchallenged, no back pass unpressured – nothing for free.  The Falcons tried to use their pace to get behind the Mavs back line and sent a few long balls through in the first minutes.  The defense absorbed the pressure, each time working the ball out of the back and into the attack.  Gina Cardenas started the first of numerous attacks on the Nation Ford goal with a strong run down the right line.  Her shot was stopped and spilled by the keeper but was grabbed before Ragan Hill could get a boot to it.  Lauren Young trapped the punt, turned, and put Maggie Cowley through on the left.  Maggies’s cross was met by Ragan but the keeper went down strong for the save.  Tera Dolan also worked a ball out of the middle and found Maggie wide again.  This time Maggie’s effort from a tough angle rolled down the crossbar.  Both teams maintained their high work rate.  Any errant touch was immediately punished.  The Mavs gradually won the pressure battle, forcing more mistakes and creating more chances.  Amanda Martin was huge in the back.  Her hustle kept a ball from going out and found Meghan Meek up the line.  Meghan advanced down the right before passing to Ragan who tried a chip to Lauren.  The keeper had to come hard to take the ball off Lauren’s head.  The incredible pace of the game and constant pressure by the Mavs resulted in a free kick from the left.  Sarah Tuggle’s service from outside the corner of the box found Lauren unmarked and free to head home the game’s first goal in the twentieth minute.  The girls immediately began looking for another and Meghan soon fed Gina on the right.  Gina’s cross from the corner was gathered by the keeper before Ragan could get her touch.  Gina started another attack from the back with a long clearance that Emily Praktish collected, turned and took to goal.  She nutmegged a Falcon but the keeper again came out hard to smother the ball.  Emily was the target of a free kick that she flicked on for Lauren but it was beyond her reach.  Lauren made a good run down the right and used a couple changes of pace to gain space and force a corner.  Tori Pilgrim made herself known with a hard run through the middle and a low shot that forced a good save at the post.  With the refs letting both teams play big girl soccer, and the relentless pace of the match, the first half was over quickly leaving everyone eager for the restart.

     The Mavericks began the second period with the same aggressive attitude and hustle they had shown throughout the first.  It only took three minutes before their efforts paid off again.  Sarah dispossessed a Falcon inside midfield, stepped to her left and played a short pass to Ragan.  Ragan turned to goal and ‘megged her marker.  The keeper came to cut the angle but Ragan fired quick and low, beating her easily and doubling the Mavs’ lead.  Moments later Lauren slipped through the defense on a fast break with Ragan to her left.  The goalie pressured Lauren as she tried to square the ball for Ragan, causing the ball to go tantalizingly out of reach.  Nation Ford never gave in and kept up their hustle and energy throughout the match.  They counterattacked down the left of center but Amanda stayed on the shoulder for thirty yards before tackling the ball clear.  Mauldin shrugged it off and rebuilt their attack out of the back.  Meghan collected a pass wide and played Sarah into the corner.  After a quick move around the left back, Sarah sent a perfectly weighted chip to the center of goal where Lauren coolly headed home her second of the afternoon.  Neither team backed down and Tera again found Maggie on the left for a cross that was just out of reach for Ragan.  Lauren tried to turn provider as she slipped a diagonal ball through the center backs for Haley Dunham.  Haley charged hard and it took a great tackle to disrupt her shot.  The Mauldin midfield did yeoman’s work all match staying with their marks stride for stride and competing for every touch.  The back four stayed well organized and kept their shape, able to absorb pressure no matter its source.  Nation Ford earned a late corner and sent it dangerously to the back post.  Kathy Jones provided a vital clearing header, denying a close range header.  Today, every Mav played hard every minute they were on the field.  There was no walking.  No free touches.  No let up in effort.  Constant hustle.  It took all of this and a total team commitment for eighty minutes to beat a very capable Nation Ford.  It was exciting and entertaining, and the girls should be very proud of their efforts.