NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Despite the mud, sophomore Kayla Zingale scored her 17th goal of the season Monday night.
Then North Ridgeville made it hold up for 55 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Elyria in a fast, competitive non-conference soccer match. The Rangers improved to 7-5-1 as goalkeeper Samantha Wiles posted her sixth shutout.
The Pioneers turned up the heat in the second half, created three good scoring chances and got one last shot at Wiles in the final second. But the Rangers junior made the save and Elyria fell to 6-6. The Pioneers were missing four starters because of injuries.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I shot the ball and it went in the goal,” Zingale said of her winner.
No doubt. She had to make a long run with the Pioneers defense nipping at her heels. She temporarily lost control deep in the Elyria box, then regained control and fought past two defenders to score.
Zingale nearly nailed a second goal in the 41st minute, but her hard shot hit loudly against the left goalpost-crossbar corner, and the Pioneers defense cleared.
“I thought it was going in, but then it didn’t,” Zingale said. “It was disappointing.”
Not so disappointing was the play of the Rangers’ defenders and Wiles was among their biggest fans.
“Kaleigh (Asp), Marissa (Austin) and Julie (Gunn) were working really hard,” Wiles said. “They got back when people got beat every single time. I wasn’t expecting (Elyria to make a late push), but I was ready for it.”
The Rangers also created some early second-half chances they didn’t finish. Zingale made a nice crossing pass through the Elyria box in the 46th minute, but Bailey Andress, the Pioneers’ senior keeper, came off her line to smother the ball before it connected.
Again, Zingale sent a cross toward senior Isabella Mercurio in the 55th minute, but the Elyria defense broke up the play, and freshman Samantha Miller put a hard shot right at the Pioneers’ Andress in the 63rd minute.
Elyria’s best chance came in the 70th minute when junior Celeste Jones got off two hard shots in a bang-bang sequence that saw Wiles come up big for the Rangers. The Pioneers earned a corner kick after Wiles knocked the second shot back over her goal line, but they couldn’t convert.
As the clock wound down in the final 10 seconds, Jones got loose again along the left side, moved into the middle and got off a hard shot that Wiles saved routinely in the last second.
“The girls I put in (for Elyria’s injured starters) stepped it up very nicely and I was proud of how they played,” Pioneers coach Venera Ilievski said. “I’m also very proud that they didn’t give up.”
Rangers coach Bryan Asp said a competitive match with Elyria is nothing new.
“It’s the same every year,” he said. “We really go at them and tonight I thought we created more offensive chances. We just have to put it in the net. When you get in these tight games, that’s sometimes a factor. If you let them hang around, anyone can come back and win and that’s almost what happened tonight.”
North Ridgeville 1, Elyria 0
- GOAL: (NR) Kayla Zingale (25th minute).
- SHOTS: Elyria 6, North Ridgeville 7.
- SHOTS ON FRAME: Elyria 4, North Ridgeville 4.
- SAVES: (E) Bailey Anderson 4; (NR) Samantha Wiles 5.
- CORNER KICKS: Elyria 2, North Ridgeville 3.
- GOAL KICKS: Elyria 8, North Ridgeville 4.
- OFFSIDE: Elyria 6, North Ridgeville 2.
- HANDBALLS: Elyria 2, North Ridgeville 1.
- INFRACTIONS: Elyria 4, North Ridgeville 6.
- YELLOW CARDS: (E) Celeste Jones (16th minute), coach Ilievski (22nd), Natalie Benko (64th).
- HALFTIME: North Ridgeville, 1-0.
Contact Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.