Saturday, September 30th saw the Niagara Knights women's soccer program win their third straight game as the team blanked the visiting Lambton Lions 1-0 at Youngs SportsPlex in Welland. The win moves the Knights to 3-3 on the season and firmly into fourth place in the OCAA West Division.
High winds played a major factor in the contest, and in the opening half, the Knights found themselves battling the brutal winds for a tough 45 minutes. Despite the disadvantage, the team controlled play and managed to outshoot their Sarnia based opponents 4-0 in the opening half.
"We started quickly, but found ourselves frustrated by unlucky bounces" said Knights head coach Rob Lalama.
The unlucky bounces were highlighted by a goal post strike by dynamic forward Alex Craig who streaked in on a breakaway in the 10th minute.
"We really controlled play but found ourselves tied 0-0 at half" continued Lalama. "We came out strong in the second half and really took over the match."
With the wind at their backs, the second half was a dominant performance for the Knights. The team peppered the Lions goal with 12 second half shot attempts, while forcing Lambton goalkeeper Mika Madisyn to make eight saves.
During the offensive barrage, Fonthill's Michelle Maecker notched her team leading fifth goal of the season, converting on a strike from just inside the 18 yard box in the 50th minute. The tally was the rookie striker's third straight game finding the score sheet. The former E.L. Crossley Cyclone standout has enjoyed a fantastic start to her OCAA career. Maecker's five goals (through just six games) is the second most goals in a season for a Knights' women's soccer player, trailing only Jackie Lawther's record of 9 goals set during the 2015 season.
The Knights did not concede a second half shot on goal, boosted by the rock solid backline play of fifth year team captain Shannon Halliday (Welland) and Lauren Frasca (Welland). Lalama felt his two defenders did an outstanding job "nullifying the Lions' offensive attack."
First year goalkeeper Alexis Hebert turned in her second consecutive shutout.
The Knights will now enter a crucial home stretch of the 2017 season. The team will visit Mohawk on Tuesday night for their final road game of the year. The team will then return to the friendly confines of Youngs SportsPlex for their final three match against first place Fanshawe (Oct. 11), St. Clair (Oct. 14), and Redeemer (Oct. 18).
"Our next four games are really important" added Lalama. "We need to prove to ourselves that we can get results against the top teams in the division."