John Bruce, Contributor
FRENCHTOWN — No matter how you get your first opportunity, you should always do your best to make the most of it.
In only her second career start, Unioto’s Brandy Robinson did just that, scoring two goals in the Shermans’ 5-2 victory over Jackson on Thursday evening.
Before Robinson’s opening goal (37:48), the Shermans had been held scoreless for nearly 250 game minutes over their past three-plus contests. Robinson gathered a poor clearance outside the 18-yard box and put a beautiful right-footed shot above the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms to finally break Unioto’s scoreless streak.
Unioto (2-3) has played an excellent schedule up to this point, so a feel-good night was needed to get things going in the direction it’s wanting to go.
Following up Robinson’s opening goal, sophomore Arielle Pelletier streaked down the right sideline and was able to net her first goal of the season (24:01) on an assist from Avery Miller. The 2-0 score remained at halftime.
Throughout the first half, the Shermans’ defense shifted players in and out and completely stymie the Ironman attack. Starters Allie Cox, Jaidyn McKell, and Abi Seals, along with Rylie Bode and Jaylah Kennedy, were solid as a rock and kept things easy for goalkeeper Sydney Free.
The midfield was dominated by Sophia Garza, Kylee Bethel, and XiXi McKell as the Shermans showed glimpses of what is expected of them moving forward.
The second half began much like the first as Erin Callahan (36:05) tallied her fourth goal of her junior campaign, assisted by Autumn Stanger. Robinson (13:37) crushed a half volley on a great cross by Jeyla Wilson to appear to push the game completely out of reach.
However, the Ironladies (0-2-1) wouldn’t go down without a fight. Junior Taylor Thorpe scored twice in quick succession (9:31 and 5:18) to provide the Jackson faithful with a glimmer of hope.
The comeback would quickly be thwarted by the sisterly duo of Ashtyn and Avery Miller. Ashtyn netted her first career goal with 2:14 to play to round out the scoring. Making the goal even more special was that it was assisted by her big sister, Avery.
Free ended up with five saves in goal.
Unioto looks to continue on the winning path when they host Waverly on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The Shermans defeated the Tigers in last year’s district semifinal matchup in their last meeting. Meanwhile, Jackson is back in action Tuesday in an FAC match with Hillsboro.
37:48 — U, Brandy Robinson
24:01 — U, Arielle Pelletier (Avery Miller)
36:05 — U, Erin Callahan (Autumn Stanger)
13:37 — U, Robinson (Jeyla Wilson)
9:31 — J, Taylor Thorpe
5:18 — J, Thorpe (Penalty Kick)
2:14 — U, Ashtyn Miller (Av. Miller)
Shots: Unioto 20, Jackson 8
Shots on Goal: Unioto 12, Jackson 8
Saves: Unioto 5 (Free 5), Jackson 8 (Sydney Brown 8)
Fouls: Unioto 11, Jackson 13
Corners Won: Unioto 3, Jackson 0
Unioto’s boys hand Beechcroft loss in non-conference action
FRENCHTOWN — Sometimes to achieve greatness, you have to put your head down and weather the storm.
Through the first 30 minutes of Thursday’s boys soccer match between Unioto and Columbus Beechcroft, the Cougars continually attacked the Shermans’ defense. However, the Tanks were able to withstand the storm to only trail 1-0.
In trailing, Unioto (5-1) was pressured consistently and was unable to even attempt a shot. But, with five minutes to play in the first half, senior Vijay Wangui did what he’s done all season and that’s make the big play for the Shermans. Wangui split the defense on his way to powering a right-footed shot into the top of the net for his 10th goal of the season.
Wangui’s ability to slash through the Cougars’ defense appeared to give the Shermans the necessary belief they could complete the come-from-behind victory.
The Tanks came out of the locker room with vigor and energy, which led to many more scoring chances and a swarming defense that kept Beechcroft at bay throughout the rest of the game.
The paying crowd was given a fantastic show over the final 40 minutes as the game opened up and each team played a counterattack style that led to several breaks. The Shermans defense of Carson DeBord, Ashton Sigler, Noah Meade, and Asher McBee appeared to be everywhere in the back third of the field, while freshman goalkeeper Micah Geise stood on his head to make multiple outstanding saves.
Not to be outdone, the veteran Cougars used the entire field, with great vision and communication to give themselves a chance late, even after the Shermans handled their initial blitz to begin the match.
In the final minutes, the Cougars were able to parry a great touch and shot by Cameron DeBord off the goal line to maintain the deadlock.
Alas, the Shermans would not be denied a victory after Jayce Wingo played a ball to Ethan Kerns in the middle of the goal box before the crafty junior patiently split defenders and calmly beat the keeper go seal a 2-1 victory.
Over the final 1:44, Beechcroft pushed forward aggressively, but was unable to get a good look at the goal. The game closed out after senior Gage Stout cleared the ball upfield to run down the clock. The midfielder, along with Kerns in the middle, were keys to the Shermans’ ability to negate multiple Cougar attacks over the final half of play.
Geise finished the game with 11 saves.
Unioto is back in action on Saturday afternoon, hosting Waverly at 1 p.m. Unioto defeated Waverly last season in their only meeting.
20:36 — CB, Jaylen Momoa
5:00 — U, Vijay Wangui
1:44 — U, Ethan Kerns (Jayce Wingo)
Shots: Unioto 10, Beechcroft 18
Shots on Goal: Unioto 8, Beechcroft 12
Saves: Unioto 11 (Geise 11), Beechcroft 6
Fouls: Unioto 5, Beechcroft 6
Corners Won: Unioto 5, Beechcroft 14