MINFORD — In a multitude of different ways, Erin Daniels has proven herself as one of Minford’s finest multi-sport athletes.
On Thursday evening, Daniels proved to have the winning attitude and overall talent that allowed the Falcons’ girls soccer program to prevail despite a strong effort from the Tim Amburgey-led Northwest Mohawks’ girls soccer program, with the senior’s goals in the seventh and 14th minutes of action in the opening half of play putting Minford ahead for good as the Lady Falcons emerged victorious with a 5-0 victory over the Lady Mohawks on Thursday evening on the Minford High School campus.
For Shane Tieman, however, Minford, who improved to 7-3 on the year with the victory, could’ve played a better contest by advancing the ball on the outer halves of the field.
“We need to get our tempo up, especially for ‘Burg,” Tieman said. “When we played at Northwest, we did a really good job of getting the ball down the sides and then crossing to the middle. We just weren’t doing as well with that. You have off nights sometimes. In the second half, they improved. It’s still not where I wanted it to be, but we showed a lot of improvement. I’ve got to hand it to Northwest though. They’re down a couple of girls due to injuries, but they all played their guts out and they hustled to every ball. That’s a good program with a good coach in Tim Amburgey and good girls. Hat’s off to them.”
As far as Amburgey was concerned, the match represented a vast improvement for Northwest, who fought hard despite missing six starters due to injury.
“In the first match that Minford played against us, they pounded us pretty hard,” Amburgey said. “We played a strong defensive game tonight in both halves, even despite dealing with injuries that have six of our starters on the mend. I’m asking some ladies to step up and do some things that they don’t normally do. I’m proud of the effort that they gave tonight, but Minford’s a good squad and a well-coached team. Shane (Tieman) does a good job with them, and they’ve got some strong talent there.”
The opening half of play, however, was all about Daniels’ ability to get up the field. The midfielder, who has already committed to play NCAA Division II basketball at Ashland University, slashed up the field for a nice shot in the seventh minute and followed by converting an excellent through ball from Ali Brumfield seven minutes later to obtain a 2-0 lead in the 14th tally.
“Erin’s one of those players that controls the middle of the field,” Tieman said. “She’s unselfish, and she steps up when it’s needed, but is also willing to set up other players for goals.”
However, over the remaining 26 minutes of the first half, the Northwest defense stood tall and frustrated the talented and well-balanced offense. Behind the efforts of Ellie Curtis, Sydnie Jenkins, and Kaley Hamilton, the Mohawks didn’t allow Minford to obtain a clean shot on goal over the remainder of the half.
“The defensive effort that we had was solid,” Amburgey said. “The girls stepped it up tonight. I asked a couple of our girls, Ellie Curtis and Sydnie Jenkins, to step back and play defense. They did an outstanding job. Then, in the middle of the defense, Kaley Hamilton really anchors everything there. She did a good job as well.”
However, while Northwest’s defense was playing an excellent brand of soccer, the Minford defensive unit responded with that same intensity necessary to maintain the early lead that it had established. Behind the play of Aspen Lambert — who Amburgey referred to as the best defender in the SOC II ranks — and Hannah Tolle, the Lady Mohawks were only able to cross midfield twice in the first half.
“Aspen and Hannah really control the middle of the field,” Tieman said. “We switch in and out on the sides, but at the end of the games, Aspen and Hannah are still in there because you can’t do without them on the field. They have saved our bacon several times.”
In the second half of play, Minford’s continued assault down the Northwest side of the field paid off as the Lady Falcons opened up distance between itself and the Lady Mohawks. Goals in the 45th and 46th minutes from Aurie Coriell (off of a corner kick) and Brumfield (from the middle of the box), along with a 62nd minute tally from Amy Shoemaker that bended nicely into the far side of the box, allowed the Lady Falcons to pull away en route to the 5-0 victory.
“The distribution of the ball has been really impressive,” Tieman said. “I have multiple girls scoring, and multiple girls who have at least several assists. It’s a very diverse group of people who are getting involved. The overall production of goals this year is just a lot better than it was last year, and we’re playing better as a team this year.”
With the win, Minford not only improved to the aforementioned 7-3 mark on the year but also improved to the right side of .500 in conference play (3-2). The Lady Falcons will travel to Wheelersburg next Tuesday for a 7 p.m. showdown in what will be a rematch from the pair’s first meeting on Aug. 31 — a 5-2 Wheelersburg victory.
“We played a great first half, and (Todd) Jarvis made some great adjustments that we didn’t adjust really well to,” Tieman said. “We know that now. It will be tougher on their turf field. They’re fast, but we know that we can play with them. We’ve just got to do it.”
As for Northwest, Amburgey is hoping that the improvements that he has seen will start to translate to the win column. Northwest will play at West on Monday evening in what will be a 5:30 p.m. matchup.
“We’ve got some winnable games coming up,” Amburgey said. “We’re just trying to get some people healthy again, put together good showings in those games, and finish strong over the last three weeks of the season.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7