XENIA — The final 22 seconds of Wednesday’s match for the Xenia girls soccer team had a gratifying feeling following what had been a mostly frustrating second half.
A penalty kick was awarded in the final minute following a Greenville hand ball within its 18-yard box, and Jaelyn Moore scored a go-ahead goal for the Bucs’ to earn a 2-1 win at home.
Moore was chosen after short deliberation on the sideline and she needed little time to get set up for the kick. She took three steps and fired in a rolling ball with her right foot toward the left post which was out of reach of the Greenville keeper.
The goal was the finale of a strong offensive effort in the second half which didn’t result in a lot of scoring.
Xenia trailed most of the night after the Green Wave scored just over two minutes into the match. Play was relatively even through halftime, but it was the Bucs which applied all of the pressure in the second 40 minutes.
Unofficially producing an 18-1 total shots advantage, Xenia put the Greenville defense on its heels the vast majority of the second half with numerous corner and free kick opportunities that produced numerous shots on net.
“One of the things we’ve talked about recently is that we have to keep in mind if the first one doesn’t go in, we have to take the second one,” Lamb said. “We’e been in the last few games passing up chances to shoot too and tonight I felt like we took the chances that we had.”
Xenia got the tying goal from Mya Breakall with roughly 14 minutes to go off a breakaway she nearly lost control of near the box before sending a shot into the net.
Greenville did not record a shot after halftime until six minutes remained in the match, and it sailed wide to give goalkeeper Macie Wright an easy night with two saves. Xenia continued the press afterward, eventually leading to Moore’s PK winner.
As Lamb pointed out after the match, it hasn’t been just one night of frustration, but several for Xenia this year.
The Greenville win is only the second of the season for the Bucs. Six of the team’s eight losses have been by one or two goals.
Lamb said it’s been difficult for his team to fight through the close calls game after game with inconsistencies to the lineup playing a large role in how the season has played out to date.
“We’ve constantly had either injuries or sickness that has kept us from playing the same lineups consistently,” he said. “I think right now we’re finally at a point to where we’re almost healthy, and as a result of that, the way we moved the ball tonight is because there’s been more continuity in practice.”
Lamb liked the assertiveness he witnessed from players like Nadia Lewis, Breakall and Moore to take charge on the pitch and thinks the work put in during training sessions is finally paying off for his group.
“Recently practices have been a higher work rate and more intensity, more passion, all of those things, and it’s leading to better soccer,” Lamb said. “We know that we’ve been close, really close. We gave up a late goal to Sidney to lose that game, and another early one tonight and I was a little fearful we might drop our heads, but they didn’t and responded really well.”