PH Northern Girls Soccer host Port Huron at MAC Blue with 4-1 win
This was the first league game for the Port Huron women’s soccer team as part of MAC Blue. Port Huron Northern therefore gave a warm welcome to its crosstown rival.
The Huskies defeated the Big Reds, 4-1, at home Wednesday afternoon. Callie Abair scored twice for Northern, who improved to 2-0. Kaylee Shattuck scored Port Huron’s only goal, which fell to 1-1.
“We were very good at sending balls into the corners and sending crosses,” Abair said. “Which we worked a lot on. We have very good outside midfielders.”
“Our main objective was to stay focused on their key players and try to watch them at all times,” said Northern coach Bryan Becker. “So Shattuck and (Bryanna Stocks). I think for the most part we were pretty organized.”
“We’ve seen some good things,” Port Huron coach Mark Hanton said. “We’ve moved some people to positions they hadn’t been in because we’re light on players now. But some people have stepped up. We’re improving and we’ll get there.”
Despite overcast skies, there was hardly any rain throughout the match. But the weather still managed to be a factor.
“The wind played a big role,” Becker said. “We really controlled the ball in the first half when we had the wind. (Port Huron) did a lot better in the second when they had it. So it became a mental game with not just having to play the opponent, but also having to keep in mind that the wind was going to distort what was going on a bit.”
A couple of Huskies shots went over the crossbar. As for their first shots on goal, they were stopped by Layne Palmer of Port Huron. The junior keeper made several close-range saves in the first 25 minutes.
“I think she played very well,” Hanton said. “She made a big difference and played hard. She really came a long way and I think that made the difference between this year and last year as well.”
But Northern’s attack struck three times in the last 15 minutes of the first. Abair opened the scoring with 14:49 left before halftime.
“I got a cross from Chelsea (Warren) in the middle of the box,” Abair said. “And that was just a touch and a finish.”
Warren scored from the right corner with 3:40 left and Abair added another goal 20 seconds later.
“(My second goal) was a missed pass and then a touch from the defender,” Abair said. “I just followed him and I was done.”
“I thought Grace Schroll and Mady Hall controlled the midfield pretty well for us,” Becker said. “Grace is learning a new position in the middle of the field. She really covered a lot of ground and kept an eye on things defensively.”
The Big Reds had four freshmen for their first experience of MAC Blue competition.
“For (our) young people, I think it was ‘Welcome to high school football,'” Hanton said. “It’s a tough game and there’s a lot more physicality than they’ve probably seen before. But we saw some really good passing and really good control.”
Port Huron became more comfortable and began to pressure Northern’s defense in the second half.
“Kassidy Seaton and Ella Hall have done a great job at centre-back,” Becker said. “The big thing with them is making sure you have eyes on Shattuck – and she got us once. We lost a bit of focus and she’s able to make you pay.”
Shattuck put the Big Reds on the board with 3:25 remaining in the game. She dribbled around a North defender and had the goalkeeper bit on a fake before scoring just left of the goal post.
But the Huskies weren’t finished. Kaylynn Sergent scored the game’s last goal with 2:49 left.
“We’re getting closer,” Hanton said. “The most important thing tonight is that we found people who could play in positions where we didn’t have them before. So we’re starting to figure out who’s going to gel and be in the right place.”
“I think we played, overall, a good team game,” Becker said. “It’s something to build on.
I’m really happy with the performance and yet we still have a lot to work on this season.”
Contact Brenden Welper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.