East girls hold on for upset over West
Feb. 22, 2012 at 6 a.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2012 at 8:22 p.m.
Before each game, Misty Boenig gives her soccer team a trinket, an idea - all sorts of things, really -to encourage them as they take the field.
Tuesday, she gave the Victoria East girls soccer team removable tattoos of butterflies. Boenig wanted the Titans to fly when they took the field against rivals Victoria West. Sure enough they did.
The underdog Titans (7-8, 4-2) scored two goals in five minutes to beat the Warriors 2-1 at Memorial Stadium. It took a last second goal line clearance from goalkeeper Kelsey Ferry preserve the win.
West head coach James McCarter said the East-West rivalry always has a lot of hype and emotion. Before kickoff, he stressed it was just another district game - even though a win would have put them in first place in District 59-4A.
"I think our girls came out flat. We took it as the next game," McCarter said. "East is a good team. They have some guns who can shoot. They pass the ball very well and they beat us."
The East sophomore goalkeeper bruised her tailbone in the process, but was all smiles afterward.
It's possible, maybe even probable, the game hinged on two matchups in the middle of the field. West's Anhila Rocha against East freshman Morgan Wyatt and Titans sophomore attacking midfielder Rachel Mansker's quest to avoid West stopper Bryana Frazier.
"We knew what each of our individual jobs were," Mansker said. "My job was to get up there and score and stop the passes back to the stopper.
Rocha scored the first goal of the game 80 seconds into the second half.
Frazier whipped in a cross that was fumbled by the East goalkeeper. The freshman instinctively headed the loose ball into the net to give the Warriors (10-5, 4-2) the lead. It was the fifth time in six district games Rocha provided a goal or an assist for Victoria West.
"As soon as I saw the ball release from her hand, I said 'this is my time and I have to go for it' or else it will never come again," Rocha said. "I just went for it and thank God it went in."
Before the Warriors could adjust to playing with the lead, they were taking the ball out of the back of their net.
Nearly everyone in Memorial Stadium knew Rachel Mansker can be deadly when given time to shoot. But it's easy to believe someone can be stopped from the stands. On the field, it can be a different story.
Frazier and Mansker have played together on the Victoria Heat U-18 club team. Frazier said the two know each others strengths, and how to get under the other's skin and find space to avoid the other.
"I knew what I had to do to keep her from shooting," Frazier said. "Sometimes, she was unmarked and she was able to shoot. She has that foot and she was able to score."
After getting too much air under the ball for the first 45 minutes of the game, the East sophomore captain hit a blistering shot from 30 yards away into the roof of the net to tie the game.
A group of boys in the stands were so impressed with Mansker's goal that whenever the Warriors attempted similar long-distance shots, they smirked "You're not Rachel Mansker!"
The next time East had the ball in the Warrior third, Mansker found space to cause havoc. She said she didn't have a good angle on goal, so she just knocked the ball toward West goalie Shelbey Cade with venom and hoped for a rebound or ricochet.
When it happened junior forward Kirsten Haun was there to stab the ball home with 34:43 remaining.
"They really did give me a lot of space," Mansker said. "I took advantage of it, especially on the shot I scored on. I knew I had the time to shoot and I did so, so I wouldn't go over, like I did earlier."
East man marked Rocha the entire match. In the vital last 15 minutes of the game, as they tried to hold onto the lead, Wyatt was tasked with tracking the elusive freshman. Wyatt said West played a great game, and found it a great honor to be able to play a part in the victory.
"She has speed, ball control and an amazing shot," Wyatt said about Rocha. "But, we had to block off her passes. If we don't give her the opportunity to get the ball then you block of what she is capable of accomplishing."
East had eight shots on goal, six of which were in the second half. Though they played against the wind in the final 40 minutes, the Titans were able to get chances. Valerie Rojas might have ended the game with nine minutes remaining, but her goal was judged to be offside by the linesman.
West did not have as many chances, but those they had were threatening. Rocha had a one-on-one with Ferry, and was stopped. Two minutes later Ferry made herself large to thwart a Sarah Warner breakaway.
"The first round (of district) is over. We have six games to go. If we want to win we have to go all or nothing down the stretch," Frazier said. "The better team will come out on top."