MINFORD — When people nowadays want to remember their 15 minutes of fame, the Minford Lady Falcons —on Monday night futbol —would rather forget these 15 seconds.
Actually, it was 16 tics to be exact, as the visiting Fairfield Lions struck with two early second-half goals — breaking a 2-2 halftime tie and going on to defeat the Falcons 4-2 in a non-league girls soccer matchup.
Unfortunately for the Lady Falcons, it was their third consecutive defeat —following a three-game winning streak which was proceeded by Southern Ohio Conference setbacks on back-to-back days against Ironton St. Joseph and Waverly.
They allowed eight goals in each of those losses to two quality and experienced opponents, although the four given up on Monday likely won’t sit well with them either.
Minford, which sports just two seniors in forward Megan Johnson and midfielder Sarah Lewis, is now 3-3-1 — with a 1-1 season-opening tie at South Point as part of that overall tally.
The Lady Lions, which last played two weeks ago because of last week’s Highland County Fair, raised their record to 4-1-0— with only a 5-2 loss against Eastern Brown being their only blemish.
On Monday, Minford made good on two equalizing goals —just five minutes and 52 seconds after Fairfield’s first marker and only four minutes and 21 seconds following the second.
However, the Lions landed lightning-quick back-to-back goals in a matter of 16 seconds, seemingly stunning the young Lady Falcons for the final 33-and-a-half minutes.
Otherwise, they hung right with the Lions for 39 minutes and 44 seconds.
But as Minford coach Shane Tieman explained, losing command on any possession can ultimately result in an untimely loss.
“I think we came out flat right there. There was about a minute window ahead of that first goal where we were starting to fall back on our heels and losing our focus. But that’s how it can happen in soccer. You lose focus that quick, and suddenly you’re down by two goals,” he said. “Had it been just one goal, I don’t think they (Lions) would have been able to do what they did to adjust. But that second goal killed us. After that second goal, they put five back on defense, double-teamed Haley (Knore) up front.”
The Lady Lions locked down on Minford striker and scoring machine Haley Knore from there, as perhaps her best second-half shot didn’t occur until only 2:20 remained —and sailed right into the arms of Fairfield goalkeeper Alayna McIntosh.
Of Minford’s 19 shots, Knore notched seven —including the club’s first goal following bang-bang point-blank ricochet shots by her and Johnson.
That tied the score at 1-1, and gave Knore her 18th goal of the 2020 season —and 40th for her career.
Knore then assisted fellow sophomore Mychal Cron’s first-half goal with 3:16 remaining, as Cron beat McIntosh with a low-center shot for the 2-2 tie.
But the Falcons, which allowed Fairfield to maintain a majority of the first-half possession and fire 13 shots including 21 for the match, found not that third goal —which could have made things more interesting instead of the score staying at 4-2.
In the first half, Knore missed wide and right early and high and tight late, as her pair of quick kicks without the Lions’ defense being set sailed right to McIntosh at the 10:15 mark — and again four minutes and 20 seconds later.
“We still had some runs, we still had some looks, some other people were stepping up, but we just couldn’t get the ball to go in the net. Other than that short period of time, I thought we played with them and they are a really good team. But these are the frustrating ones,” said Tieman. “When you know you are right there, and you let down for a minute, bad things happen. It’s a matter of getting everybody focused for all 80 minutes of the game.”
The worst thing to happen to the Falcons was their lopsided allowance of Lion corner kicks — a dozen to one.
In fact, Emmi Vance’s corner kick and assist to Kennedy Zink resulted in the 3-2 lead with 33:44 to play.
“You can’t give that many corner kicks and expect to win a game,” said Tieman. “I lost count. I think it was around 15 against us. We have to do a better job of clearing the ball. We’re not clearing the ball like we should. There’s moments where you can see we are doing it, then there’s other moments where we don’t. They kept the pressure on, and we’re lucky it didn’t get out of hand with the number of corner kicks they had on us.”
Speaking of ball clearing…
Just 16 seconds later and before you could blink, Zink passed ahead to a cutting Ella Newkirk — who quickly found the back of the net against Minford keeper Nevaeh Porter.
At the 11:53 juncture of the first 40 minutes, Newkirk clanged one off the left post — but Fairfield’s possession, persistence and patience paid off with two goals just 14 minutes apart.
Cadence Saunders, the Lions’ junior captain, caromed a rocket off the top upper-right post only a minute and 14 seconds in.
But she then broke away, and weaved her way, through the Minford defensive half and third at the 21-and-a-half minute mark —making it 1-0.
With 7:37 left, Olivia Bellamy blasted a right-footer from a right-to-left kicking motion, making it 2-1.
Tieman told his Falcons to man-up on the likes of Saunders, Bellamy, Newkirk and Zink —but still Fairfield finished the deal.
“They are a very good possession team and they know who their players are and they get the ball to those players. It seemed like a lot of times we were not advancing the ball ahead of our players. Our passes were just a little bit off and would go behind. That takes time when that happens. Or we wouldn’t take that extra touch just to get the ball where it needed to go,” said the coach. “We’re a young team, we lost nine seniors off last year’s team, and that kind of stuff comes with practice and time.”
And time, 16 seconds of it at least, was definitely not on Minford’s side on Monday night.
The young Falcons, from their three wins and one tie to start the season, need to recapture that momentum as the campaign shifts into its second half.
Minford will return home, and will welcome Wheelersburg, for another important SOC tilt on Thursday.
“A lot of people counted us off this year, but I think we’re better than what a lot of people anticipated we were going to be. If we play our best, we can compete with anyone. We just have to keep grinding and believe in ourselves that we can do it,” said Tieman. “I thought tonight was a good effort, we just got unlucky for about a minute there.”
* * *
Fairfield 2 2 —4
Minford 2 0 —2
F — Cadence Saunders (unassisted), 21:26, 1st (1-0 F)
M — Haley Knore (unassisted), 15:34, 1st (1-1 tie)
F — Olivia Bellamy (unassisted), 7:37, 1st (2-1 F)
M — Mychal Cron (Haley Knore assist), 3:16, 1st (2-2 tie)
F —Kennedy Zink (Emmi Vance assist), 33:44, 2nd (3-2 F)
F — Ella Newkirk (Kennedy Zink assist), 33:28, 2nd (4-2 F)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved