Northern junior, Lauren Snow
Port Huron Northern fends off St. Clair in MAC crossover
By Randy Castro
Port Huron Northern found a way to slow the production of St. Clair’s dominant forward duo. Namely, force the issue on the other end.
The Huskies carried the play for most of the first half and held off a late charge in the second half to down the Saints 3-2 Wednesday afternoon at East China Stadium.
“In the first half, the idea was to be aggressive on the attack as a way of preventing them of getting the ball to (Tayler Malone) and (Abbie Eitniear),” Port Huron Northern head coach Bryan Becker said. “In the second half, we didn’t do as good a job of that.
“You only have to make one mistake for them to get free.”
The Huskies (6-5-3; 5-3-2 MAC Blue) got goals from three different players in the win: Lauren Snow, Emily Sayers and Megan Hicks.
Malone scored both goals for the Saints (11-3-3; 6-0-3 MAC Gold).
Snow got Northern on the board in the fourth minute, converting a penalty kick after being taken down in the box.
The 1-0 score would hold until halftime.
Malone knotted the game at one in the 53rd minute, sending a chip shot from just outside the box into the Saints’ net.
Becker said the strategy was to deny Malone’s space, something he said was difficult to do for 80 minutes.
“We tried to limit her space as much as possible by putting one of our solid defenders on her,” he said. “Aubree Johnston did a nice job of limiting her space and preventing breakaways.”
After Sayers got by the Northern defense in the 50th minute to give her team the lead back, Hicks headed home a ball in the 68th minute to make it a 3-1 game.
Malone made it a one-goal game again in the 72nd minute, but the Saints were never able to net the equalizer.
“Most teams try to stop Taylor. Every opponent we’ve had, she’s the one they have their eyes on,” St. Clair head coach Joe Kunce said. “But, one things that a lot of teams miss, is that she’s not our only weapon.”
Though Eitniear didn’t score, she was part of a late pressure on the Northern net — the threat proved fruitless.
Kunce said he didn’t fret about the two-goal deficit and that he is confident in his team’s ability to change their approach on the fly.
“I just try and stick with the same game plan; I let the players do most of the adjusting themselves,” he said. “If there’s some gaping hole that I see, I’ll do something. For the most part, I let my own players do what they want.
“I do my coaching at practice, not during the game.”
St. Clair turns right around to take on Warren Woods-Tower on Thursday; Northern will tangle with Chippewa Valley Monday.