The Hart girls soccer team hit the road on Friday morning to face West Ranch in the fourth Foothill League game of the season.
The Indians, led by junior Alyssa Irwin, took an early lead on their way to a 2-0 victory with both goals coming by way of Irwin.
The attacking wing didn’t waste any time, as she made a run down the right side of the field in the opening minutes of the game. With West Ranch defenders trying to block her path to the middle, Irwin fired a shot from about 25-yards out, finding the top left corner of the net.
“It felt really nice. I just thought I might as well take a shot because I had no other options and it worked out really well,” Irwin said. “It’s great to get a good start because then everyone gets momentum and we fight really hard.”
Irwin scored her second goal in the 54th minute, as Hart drove the ball down the field using its speed starting from the back row up to the midfield.
Junior Stefani Woll got her foot on the ball and found Irwin streaking down the right sideline. Irwin used her speed to get ahead of the Wildcats’ defense and hit a powerful arcing shot over West Ranch goalkeeper Hannah Everitt, who had come out of the goal to try and make the stop.
“I’m happy for her. She works super hard and she’s been contributing this whole season with goals and assists,” Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch said of Irwin. “These two goals were in combo with Stefani. She’s been feeding Alyssa very well. As at team we’ve been moving the ball very well. It started with the goalkeeper, moved from defense to the midfield back to Stefani and through to Alyssa and we finished. That was a total team effort.”
West Ranch did its part in limiting Hart’s scoring opportunities, but couldn’t stop Irwin’s two well-placed shots.
“Our goal going into it was to limit shots, make them shoot from outside and it just so happened Alyssa hit two bullets,” West Ranch head coach Jared White said. “Maybe the last one was a little bit of our mistake. We didn’t get deep enough quick enough knowing Alyssa’s speed. We should have dropped a little bit sooner to prevent that through ball, but I don’t think you can ask much more from my team.
“To limit them to three shots and keep as much possession as we did and to go forward and make them defend as long as we did. Obviously the result is not what you want but for us there are a lot of positives to take away.”
A young and up-and-coming West Ranch team did its best to match Hart’s physicality, going toe-to-toe with a team that features a roster stockpiled with experienced upperclassmen.
The Wildcats were aggressive out of the gate in the second half and had some opportunities to score, but Hart senior goalkeeper Kaycie Priske preserved the clean sheet with some timely saves.
“They never make a mistake. They are so well-coached and so well-organized. We were close a couple times to put something on net but we just weren’t able to get that final ball past Kaycie,” White said. “I was really proud of our effort. Starting six players who are sophomores or freshmen going up against juniors and seniors who play year-round together with the club team, I thought we gave them one hell of a scare.”
Once again, Hart’s defense was able to maintain a shutout, the ninth time the Indians haven’t conceded a goal in a game this season.
Junior right back Julia Melchiorre was practically unbeatable on one-on-one situations and center backs Kendall De La Vega and Jensen Shrout stood firm in the middle. Left back Jessica Deegan was also a force in the back row.
“We didn’t get a shutout in the last two games so you could tell they really wanted a shutout. We take pride in it,” Mitrovitch said. “I’m excited that we got a shutout because West Ranch challenged our back line several times and we were put in tough spots and we had to respond well. Our back line responded and read those situations well.”
“They are incredibly important. If they get scored on a bunch, no matter how many goals you score you’re not going to win a lot,” Irwin added about her team’s defense. “They don’t a lot of times get as much credit because the fame and glory goes to who scores but it’s just as important as the offense. They are amazing.”
With the win Hart moves to 11-3-1 overall and 4-0 in league. West Ranch moves to 6-2-3 overall and 2-2 in league.
Hart will head back home on Tuesday for a 3:15 p.m. matchup against Saugus. West Ranch will face Golden Valley on the road on Tuesday.