By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON October 26, 2007 Monday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV girls’ soccer game between the Liberty Lady Indians and host Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs was played under the lights, an illuminating opportunity designed to give the high school booters a taste of the big leagues.
But in a hotly contested match, perhaps the players got a little too much of a “big-time experience” as two booters were sidelined by injuries, a situation that caused Liberty Coach Ashlea Prouty to question the officiating.
SW’s Shelby Grishaber, a ninth-grader, was sidelined by an ankle injury in the first half. Then at about the 15 minute mark in the second half, Taylir Lorino, Liberty’s starting sophomore goalie, was apparently kicked in the head after she had possession of the ball in a melee in the cage, earning her a trip to the local hospital.
“I think it’s really sad when the officials let the game get out of hand,” Prouty said. “You play by the rules and when you don’t people get hurt… it’s all in the book.
“Kicking the goalie in the head after she had possession is not in the rules,” she added.
It was a do-or-die contest for the Lady Bulldogs. If they won, they would secure a berth in next week’s Section IX tournament. If they lost, they would not return to the soccer field until next year.
Fortunately, for the Lady Bulldogs it was a winning situation as they defeated the Lady Indians, 4-2. Liberty already clinched a spot in sectionals with a win over Chapel Field on October 2.
SW (8-8-1 overall, 3-3 Division IV) took a 3-1 lead at halftime as they recorded three goals in a row during the first 40 minutes of competition. Sarah Lander scored on a penalty kick at 30:33 and then scored again just 33 seconds later off an assist from Audryanna Ward.
At 26:23, Katrina Graby fired one into the Liberty net off an assist by Lindsey Bauer.
Liberty (12-6 overall, 3-5 OCIAA) got on the scoreboard with 48 seconds remaining in the first half, as Jasmine Walizadeh scored unassisted to make it a 3-1 match at intermission.
The Lady Indians reduced the SW lead to one goal when Rebecca Scherer scored at 26:14 in the second half.
Graby scored the final goal of the night at 15:11. Lander assisted on the tally.
The final eight minutes were a real heart-stopping situation for SW goalie Kristen Niemann as she saved a couple of what seemed destined to be sure-fire shots into the net by some hard-charging opponents.
Liberty held a 27-15 advantage in shots on goal and a 4-3 edge in corner kicks.
Niemann registered 16 saves in the match, while Liberty teammates Lorino and Sara Hazelnis made four saves and one save, respectively.
Sitting on the field in a circle after the must-win match, SW Coach Mike Ellmauer told his players, “You played a hell of a game.”
Afterwards, he summed up the match.
“Some of the goals weren’t pretty, but they all counted,” Ellmauer said. “Liberty has a lot of spunk in ‘em, and they put a lot of pressure on us, but we played hard and are going to the sectionals.”