STREATOR — In what was probably apropos for this late and manic spring, the Princeton Tigresses and Streator Lady Bulldogs took to the soccer pitch on a cold, misty, gloomy afternoon. In a match that was marked by physical play including numerous penalties on both sides as well as numerous groans and jeers from the fans on the sidelines, as well as stellar play by both keepers, the two fought like cats and dogs. In this case, the cats reigned superior, as Princeton escaped with a 2-0 victory.
Junior forward Michelle Kelly took the brunt of what the dogs had to dish out, but she also dished it out scoring both of the Tiger goals.
The first of her goals came in the 35th minute when she took a hard foul in the box. She was awarded a penalty kick and slid it in to the lower left past diving goalie Jade Marti. It was the only mar on an otherwise spotless day by Marti who had 13 saves and was active defensively on numerous other offensive drives by the Tigresses.
Kelly’s second goal came in the 70th minute after Marti was switched out of the goal in an attempt to create more offense. This time Kelly took a corner kick from junior captain Liz Stites, maneuvered to the top left of the box, then crossed a shot to the lower right corner of the net.
Kelly, who has now scored six consecutive goals for the Tigresses, offers two reasons for her sudden scoring outburst: “First, I moved to forward (from center mid), so I’m shooting more,” she said. “And our passing has greatly improved, and I’ve had a lot of great assists.”
“Michelle has that God-given gift to make things happen with her feet and has a knack for being at the right places at the right time,” PHS coach Ed Young said.
Shortly after her second goal, Kelly took a nasty shoulder and forearm, knocking her to the ground. The Streator defender took a seat on the bench after receiving a yellow card, while Kelly spent the rest of the game on the bench with a sore back. It’s not surprising that Kelly identified the Lady Bulldogs as the most physical team they’ve played.
Though Kelly receives the accolades for the offense, the defense was perhaps the key to this game. Even without senior captain Lexi Marselle, goalie Kelly Schmidt and the defense frustrated the Bulldog offense.
A key part of that frustration came because sophomore duo Ellie Bonucci (right side) and Kallie Albrecht (left side) utilized their speed to seal the sidelines and neutralize the Bulldog speed. Albrecht is a new addition to the starting backfield the last few games.
“We really like (Albrecht’s) speed back there,” Young said. “She brings a dimension that we were kind of lacking. She can run people down. She can get to the other side of the field. We found a home for her that she can thrive in, and that is definitely making us better.”
This was the first loss for Streator who fell to 3-1-1 on the season. Meanwhile the Tigresses, after starting the season with three straight losses, improve to 4-3 and head to Washington on Saturday morning.
• The junior varsity squad mimicked the varsity, also winning 2-0. Both their goals came in the fading light of the second half. Taylor Clark took a booming shot from the 35 to the upper left of the net for the go ahead goal, and the Lady Bulldogs were saddled with a goal after a slippery ball sneaked in the right side of the net.
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