Senior Amanda Nunley has been a workhorse for the Lakewood Cougar soccer team all season. Her determined style in the midfield frees up the players around her to make spectacular plays, knowing they can rely on the relentless pressure of Nunley to cover for them in defense.
Nunleys influence was demonstrated all evening Oct. 16 as the Lakewood Cougars took on a fast Granite Falls team and came out victorious, 1-0. With Nunley leading the way in midfield the Cougars controlled the ball and the tempo of the game.
Wing Alicia Silva found plenty of room along the sidelines in the first half, oftentimes easing past defenders and setting up dangerous crosses. The Cougars also got good touches up front for their forwards. At the 18 minute mark Anna Work took a long pass from the back. Work managed to get free about 15 yards in front of the goal. As she went to shoot a fast closing Granite sweeper changed her plans and Work dropped a ball off to Hayley Bustad in support at the edge of the penalty area. Bustad took a full swing on a shot and completely beat the goalkeeper with it. Unfortunately she did not beat the crossbar, a theme for the night for Lakewood. The shot ricocheted off and landed outside the box, keeping the score at 0-0.
It was Nunleys hard work that paid off minutes later when she stole a pass in midfield and went on a run through a large open area. She passed a ball off to Work on the outside left and Work crossed a perfect ball six yards in front of the goal. The Tigers goakeeper came out as Bustad ran in. Bustad got to the ball first and bumped it past the sprawled out keeper into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Granite got their best chance of the game three minutes later when a slight defensive miscommunication freed one of their forwards on the right side of the penalty area. Stephanie Kushner chased the forward down from behind and forced a backpass which Granite shot on net. Keeper Emily Steinborn did her job to collect the shot and preserve the lead.
Five minutes before halftime Bustad again hit the crossbar with a shot that would have given Lakewood a commanding 2-0 advantage. The Cougars werent finished, and as the half came to a close the solid play up front from Work and Erin Dierickx told Granite that they were in for a long night.
Lakewoods defense completely shut down the Tiger attack in the second 40 minutes. Minutes into the half, sweeper Courtney Prosser found herself in a one-on-one spot with a Tiger forward and Prosser won handily, poking the ball away and then clearing it. The teams fought to a standstill the rest of the way as Nunley and the midfield controlled most of the possession.
We wore them down, said Coach Jeremiah Wohlgemuth. With Jeneca Hoidal out we knew we needed to control the game as much as possible. What we got was the best performance of Amanda Nunleys career in a Lakewood jersey. Courtney Prosser also did an exceptional job for us moving over to sweeper. She really shut down their attack. This win puts us in a good spot for districts.
Lakewood sits in third place in the league right now with some big games ahead to determine seeding.
That was the most important game of the season so far, said Amanda Nunley after the game, were playing our best soccer right now. Our 13 seniors are all pumped up for the upcoming games.
Lakewood will begin the district tournament on Oct. 25.
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