PLYMOUTH — There’s a commonly held belief among soccer cognoscenti that the most dangerous minutes in a game are those at the start of a contest, those that directly follow a goal and those that immediately precede halftime.
That certainly proved to be the case in Plymouth’s girls soccer game with Goshen Thursday.
The Lady Redskins were quick to counter the Rockies’ two goals with scores of their own less than a minute after the home team’s strikes, and with two more scores in the waning minutes of the first half, Goshen took a 4-2 Northern Lakes Conference win from their hosts at Kindt Field.
After a fast start that included numerous near misses in the opening minutes, Plymouth started the scoring in the 24th minute when Allie Wright dribbled in a Courtney Hersick counter attack to put the Rockies up 1-0. But Goshen quickly erased the deficit when Joleen Miller chipped a long snipe into the far upper 90 to knot the score at 1-1 in the 25th minute.
“It’s kind of like the five-minute rule; the most dangerous time is five minutes after kick-off and the five minutes after a goal is scored,” said Plymouth girls soccer coach Chuck DeWitt. “We were not marking (Miller) in the middle. I saw it coming before she even got the ball; I saw where she was coming from and that she was unmarked. I knew it was a dangerous play, and she just hit it very, very well.”
Plymouth’s personnel seemed to tire somewhat towards the end of the half, and the momentum swung in Goshen’s favor as the visitors leveled multiple shots on frame, including a Jelitsa Palomino carom off the crossbeam in the 35th minute, which the Goshen forward then rebounded for another quick shot that sophomore Rockies keeper Katie Berg — who finished with five saves in goal Thursday — made a heads-up stop of.
Palomino finally found the back of the net in the 37th minute on a solo run up the middle, finishing off a goal off the inside of her right foot to give Goshen the go-ahead. Teammate Alyssa Trosper scored again in the 39th minute on a penalty kick following a hard foul of Palomino from behind in the Rockies’ box, and the visitors took a 3-1 cushion into the intermission.
“Once they got the lead they dropped their middle defender back — I mean she was back 20, 25 yards sometimes,” said DeWitt. “Smart move on their part; we would’ve done the same thing. We just weren’t able to have the combinations up the middle to get it to our forwards in good scoring position.”
Wright and Hersick had first dibs on scoring once more in the second half as Wright one-touched a clean-up from in close after Hersick’s free kick from around 25 yards out was barely knocked down by leaping Goshen sophomore goalie Alyssa Hershberger to cut the home team’s deficit to 3-2 in the 70th minute.
Wright and Hersick not only combined for Plymouth’s only goals at Thursday’s game, they also put in warrior-like performances playing the entire 80 minutes of the NLC contest.
“We didn’t take them out. When you take out a player of their caliber — either one of them — you’re taking a chance of that ball breaking free or them getting that one opportunity that they can capitalize on,” DeWitt said. “I didn’t want to take them out just simply because we wanted to be able to score when they had it.”
But after Wright’s and Hersick’s late heroics, the aptly-named Palomino broke loose again for her second goal in the 71st minute, delivering a low drive into the far side of the Plymouth net to put that Redskins out of reach and bring the score to its final margin.
“We know Jelitza very well; she played on our U16 travel team, and they won their division this year. So we know Jelitza and her sister Bryana very well,” DeWitt said. “We had man-marking with her, we put Alyssa Clyde on her, and we were aware of what she could do. She’s a very talented player.”
The win pushes Goshen out to 9-1-1 overall with a 4-1-1 NLC mark and drops Plymouth to 4-3 with an 0-2 NLC record.
Despite that 0-2 conference mark, DeWitt says his team is far from packing it in. Besides, the Rockies boss wasn’t disappointed with Plymouth’s play Thursday, although he would’ve preferred a different result.
“Of course there are things to play for. We’re not going to walk away from where we’re at,” DeWitt said. “We have two losses, but we have five games left so if we win five games in the conference we’re in good position. We’re not done with conference; it doesn’t put us out. We lost to two very good teams. We lost by a goal to Warsaw, we lost by two to Goshen, and quite honestly last year Goshen spanked us 8-1. This year I think we’ve made some very good strides. I’m not happy with a loss, but I’m comfortable with the way we played.”
• GOSHEN 4, PLYMOUTH 2
P — Allie Wright (Courtney Hersick), 24th minute
G — Joleen Miller, 25th minute
G — Jelitza Palomino, 37th minute
G — Alyssa Trosper (PK), 39th minute
P — Wright (Hersick free), 70th minute
G — Palomino, 71st minute
Shots on goal: Plymouth 7, Goshen 9
Saves (goalkeeper): Plymouth 5 (Katie Berg), Goshen 5 (Alyssa Hershberger)
Corners: Plymouth 1, Goshen 0
Records: Goshen 9-1-1 (4-1-1 NLC), Plymouth 4-3 (0-2 NLC)