By Ted Waddell
JEFFERSONVILLE September 22, 2006 The first time is always the best.
In Tuesday’s non-league girls’ soccer match between Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs and the visiting Chester Lady Hambletonians, SW pulled off its first win of the season by defeating the visitors, 7-0.
The Lady Bulldogs scored twice in the first half. Forward Donna Kelly tallied the first goal at 15:09 and forward Jessica Corbett put the ball into the goal cage at 28:57. Both goals were unassisted.
In the second half, the Lady Bulldogs proved to be unstoppable as they put four goals up on the scoreboard.
SW forward Melanie Kleiner beat Chester goalie Katie Wile at 20:53 to give the Lady Bulldogs a 3-0 advantage.
And then in one of those plays that lingers a while in a coach’s memory, a battle for possession of the ball ensued in front of the Lady Bulldogs’ net of a corner kick on the near post. In the scramble, a Lady Hambletonians’ defender booted it into her own goal cage by mistake to make it a 4-0 contest.
At 26:55, Corbett scored her second of the game.
Kristen Niemann teamed up with Lauren Ellison to score at 29:50. Then at the 32:36 mark, Niemann was credited with a hat trick as she scored on a corner kick on an assist from Kelly.
With about three minutes left on the game clock, SW Coach Mike Ellmauer cleared the bench to give all his players a taste of victory.
SW improved to 1-5 on the season, while Chester’s record fell to 3-2.
The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed an advantage in shots on goal (20-5) and corner kicks (6-0).
Niemann started out guarding the cage for the Lady Bulldogs and recorded three saves. In the second half, she moved to the midfield. Stephanie Meyer replaced Niemann as the goalie and made two saves.
“She’s a really talented player, I can’t say enough good things about her,” Ellmauers said of Niemann.
“I put her up in the front line, because she may have a future there at a higher level,” he added.
Chester Coach Kevin MacEntee also switched goalkeepers, but for a slightly different reason.” With about 13 minutes remaining in the match, Lisa DiBona took over for Wile.
“I wanted to get the goal total off one person’s shoulders and give her some experience,” MacEntee said.
His take on the game against a team that was winless going into the match?
“We didn’t show up to play, [but] it was a nice ride up on the bus, looking at the pretty hills of upstate New York,” MacEntee replied. “We just didn’t put it together on the field; they wanted the game more than we did.
“The name of the game at almost any level is if you want it more than you’re opponent, you’ll find a way to win,” MacEntee added. “We didn’t do the fundamentals and we made some bad plays, they were all over the place.”
If anybody was handing out Cheshire cat prizes for the biggest grin of the afternoon, it would have been a close call between Ellmauer and his players.
“We finally put things together a little bit, we’ve been working but we’ve been struggling… we just couldn’t click,” he said.
But that was then, this was now.
“The sky opened up and the sun came out,” he said of the Lady Bulldogs emerging from that dark place called a winless record.
Asked why, Ellmauer couldn’t point to specifics, but there out a few possibilities: better rotations on defense, getting the front line moving in the right direction and perhaps most important, “the girls got hungry for it.”
And with all that, the SW booters decided it was time to break their winning fast and sit down to a victory feast.
“Thank God they haven’t gotten down on themselves,” said Ellmauer of what it was like to take to the field without a win including a tough 3-0 defeat to John S. Burke Catholic High School on Monday afternoon.
There are seven seniors on the Lady Bulldogs’ roster, and some of them were having a problem getting used to the idea that being a senior doesn’t always guarantee the majority of playing time.
As Ellmauer brought up a group of younger players to help fill the ranks, a few senior booters got frustrated that “they weren’t getting the playing time they used to get… there’s more acceptance, but there are still some hard feelings.”
“One of my philosophies is that it’s not a bad thing to be subbed for, if it helps the team win,” he added.
Ellmauer’s pointed out the performance by a few players in Tuesday’s victory.
He noted that midfielder Jessica Armstrong “is coming alive, running through an injury,”; that defender Stevie VanWagenen “is anchoring the top of her defensive team”; and that midfielder Sarah Lander “is playing very smart [and] playing a lot of the passing lanes, mostly at midfield.”