The Fairfield girls’ soccer team lost 1-0 to Knoxville Tuesday night after falling 4-2 in penalty kicks following two scoreless 40 minutes halves along with two goalless overtimes.
“Their defense was very physical,” described sophomore Emily McAvan, “and we had a lot of opportunities we couldn’t finish, but I know we’ll get there eventually.”
Senior Bryanna Popejoy thought some opportunities were missed on mismatches.
“They were really technically strong offensively,” said the Trojan senior, “and have a lot of players returning that have played for a long time. They have them all on offense and they work well together, but their defense was a little new and that’s something we should have exploited a little bit better because we are quicker and more skilled. They are just really aggressive and that is something we struggle with up top.”
Popejoy and McAvan got bumped around a bit but started to get into their groove as the game progressed.
“I have to get a little angry and then use it in a good way,” said McAvan. “When I see someone pushing my teammates, I think ‘that’s my team and I get mad,’ but I need to kick that into gear earlier in the game.”
Sophomore Clare Else gave the team a postgame speech that resonated well enough to bleed into four separate interviews.
“We keep getting a little frustrated and we tend to get tired and less aggressive at the end,” said Else. “I want us to focus on the fact that making it to all these overtime games proves we are just as good, we just need that little extra effort so we can beat them in regulation time.”
Her long dancer’s strides are something she is working on.
“I take really large touches and that’s because I make a lot of long passes, but when I’m working by myself, I don’t have as soft of touches as I’d like so I’m working on my ball handling in general.”
Senior newcomer Kara Jeffrey is learning to find her comfort zone on the pitch.
“I see Delaney who is new this year as well and we both played basketball and kind of relate the game to that,” said the soon-to-be graduate. “It helps with defense, because it’s the same type of containment we do in basketball, I just have to get used to doing it with just my feet and not my hands, so that’s what I’m working on.”
Freshman Delaney Breen made an incredible jumping save with her torso that turned out to be as self-serving as it appeared to be self-sacrificing.
“Honestly, if I didn’t jump there, I would have felt so bad,” said the student-athlete, “not only because the ball may have gone in the goal, but it probably would have hit me in the head.”
When asked why she is so willing to throw her body in front of the ball, she replies obviously.
“That’s my job. The ball does not go into the goal and if the goalie has to touch it, we didn’t do our job.”
As for the intensity that the team is looking for, it was suggested that they each could use a little Dan Breen in their head and Delaney agreed.
“When I’m playing I can hear him saying, ‘you gotta get open, you gotta go.’ It’s intensity and there’s nothing bad about it.”
The senior Popejoy has had years to build her own voice in her head.
“For me, it is built in and I’ve been playing soccer since I could walk so the passion drives the aggressiveness. That’s something you can’t teach, it just has to come with the passion, so getting these girls more comfortable with the ball in front of them because soccer is a different sport where you can push and shove and you don’t do that in any other sport. It’s something that you have to get used to and learn how to get pushed and push back.”
“They liked to have girls in the center and the sides, so I wouldn’t always know where they were at,” said keeper Trisha Westphal, “but luckily I was able to find them and stop them.”
“It’s definitely not like a one-on-one, because I can’t move on the line. Even if I lift my heel a little off the line it doesn’t count, even if I save it, so I just have to pick a side and dive and hope that I get the ball.”
FHS will host Keokuk tonight at Dexter beginning at 4:30 p.m.