By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
“Kate! Kate!” North Marion soccer coach Steve Rodriguez called from the bench.
The Huskies were in a scoreless tie with Liberty in the 21st minute when they were awarded a free kick. Rodriguez wanted his senior Kate Doshier to take it.
Doshier proved it was the right call.
From just outside the box, she approached and booted the ball to the upper part of the net. It glanced off the crossbar and fell right into the netting — a nearly indefensible shot.
“She’s my senior and she probably has one of the strongest legs on the team,” Rodriguez said. “Kate is very good about sending it from distance and sending it into the corner.
“She likes the pressure. She can handle the pressure. I have a lot of confidence in Kate. She’s a good senior leader for us.”
Though sophomore Brittany White added a second goal with just a few minutes remaining, it turned out one goal was all the Huskies needed.
Goalkeeper Shasta Pyles and the defense kept Liberty off the board and the Huskies won a closely contested game, 2-0.
“I’m a firm believer that Shasta Pyles is one of the better goalkeepers around,” Rodriguez said.
Making her first start of the season, sophomore Hannah Parrish also stepped up and played an integral roll in the shutout. She — along with Shelby King, Paige Efaw and midfielder Skylah Haught — kept Liberty from getting many good opportunities on net.
“That’s an excellent defensive front,” Rodriguez said.
After the initial goal, North Marion and Liberty both had a couple scoring opportunities, but neither team could finish. As time wound down, the frustration began to boil over and a few times the referee stopped the game to warn players to settle down.
Finally, with just over two minutes remaining, sophomore Brittany White collected a rebound and fired it into the net for the Huskies’ second goal. It was the sophomore’s first goal of the season and it helped give the Huskies some breathing room.
“I’ve been wanting a goal all season,” White said. “I’m just thankful that I got one.”
“That relieved us a lot of pressure,” Rodriguez added. “They had some good shots on us. When we got that second one, we could relax and put everyone back on defense. That was a big score for us.”
Rodriguez said it was a big win for the girls, especially against a tough Liberty team.
“There is no easy cakewalk in the rest of this conference. It’s going to be tough,” he said. “To end up with a ‘W’ is very positive for us. That’s what we’re looking for, a ‘W’ every game. If we can finish it out with ‘W’s,’ we’ll be happy.”
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North Marion’s boys’ team was in a situation it hasn’t been in all season, and it took advantage of it.
Dylan Leary scored in the first half to give the Huskies their first lead of the year and they didn’t squander it, as North Marion won its first game of the year, 2-1.
“These guys have had a couple close games, a couple bad bounces,” first-year coach Matt Gilpin said. “The big thing for us was that we got the first goal.”
Leary scored his second goal of the game with about 30 seconds left in the first half to stretch the lead to 2-0.
North Marion had several more good opportunities, but sailed a handful of shots over the net.
“We’ve got to put it on the net. We’re putting it over,” Gilpin said. “We should have had three or four more.”
Goalkeeper Angelo Bombadiere nearly had a shutout. With just over 10 minutes remaining, he had the ball in his hands and there was a collision, but the referee ruled that he didn’t have control of the ball.
Still, Gilpin said Bombadiere (as well as Leary) played well.
“They were my players of the game,” Gilpin said.
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.