AVON — Nothing could be worse than an opening night loss to your neighborhood rival.
But after a 1-1 draw Saturday night, neither Avon nor Avon Lake had to face that fate and could leave the field with at least some level of satisfaction.
After a scoreless first half, Avon got on the board in the 59th minute when freshmen forward Maggie O’Donnell found herself in the right place at the right time. Emily Joyce took a centering pass from Alex LaSalla and banged it off the goal post, and O’Donnell got enough of the ball on the rebound to put it past Shoregals goalkeeper Amy Crooks to put her team in front 1-0.
The goal was the culmination of a frantic first twenty minutes of the second half for an Avon team that played most of the first half in its defensive end.
“As long as I have been coach here we have always been a second-half team,” Avon coach Danie Schnaufer said. “I think the girls were just nervous in the first half being that it was the first game and we didn’t have a lot of scrimmages.”
Senior goalkeeper Kayla Wysocki, who turned away six Avon Lake shots, and the rest of the defense kept the Eagles in the match even though they didn’t have a shot on goal during the first 40 minutes.
“I really didn’t know what I had with the defense before tonight,” Schnaufer said. “We have been shifting people into different positions to find out what we needed.”
Avon Lake was finally able to penetrate the Eagles defense in the 73rd minute. Junior forward Emily O’Conner gathered in a loose ball near midfield and set off toward the Avon goal — dribbling between four defenders — before taking a right-footed shot from the top of the penalty box that sailed past an outstretched Wysocki into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
“I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted tonight so when I got that ball I was determined to make a shot for myself,” O’Conner said. “We were disappointed when we let that one get in but we never got down and kept battling.”
In his first game as the Shoregals coach, Daegen Duvall found a lot of positives in his team’s performance.
“Of course it’s not the result you want coming in, but I thought we really dominated the first half,” he said. “We just missed a couple of chances to get a goal.”
The Shoregals are a young team — starting three sophomores and a freshmen — but they still have enough depth that Duvall was able to give 18 girls significant playing time in the match.
“We have a motto on this team — To Be United — and to be able to have everyone contribute is important to us,” he said. “These girls have passion for the game and it showed tonight, I could not be any more proud of their effort.”
Most of the match was played near the center of the field with scoring chances coming few and far between. Both sides only had one corner kick and combined for just 11 shots on goal.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon Lake 1, Avon 1
GOALS — Avon Lake: O’Conner (73rd minute); Avon: O’Donnell (59th minute).
SAVES — Avon Lake: Rogers (0 saves) Crooks (3 saves); Avon: Wysocki (6 saves).
FOULS — Avon Lake: 10; Avon: 8.
CORNER KICKS — Avon Lake: 1; Avon: 1.
OFFSIDES — Avon Lake: 2.
HALFTIME — 0-0.