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Youth takes over in loss to St. Francis

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By Jenna McKenna

Lady Devils soccer had a tough outing Saturday at St. Francis Catholic. Coming back from the holidays, several players were still out of town. Senior captain Abby Rodriguez was playing on a heavily-wrapped, obviously sore right knee, still trying to recover from an injury suffered last month. The remaining starters and backups looked tentative, leading to their 3-0 loss to the Lady Wolves.

"I've got one starter hurt, five starters out, and that makes the game a lot more difficult mentally," said Devils' head coach Max Aguirre. "St. Francis didn't out-skill us, they out-hustled us."

Co-captains Rodriguez and Suzie Smith had a tough time directing traffic with players in unfamiliar positions. The Wolves looked more at ease, as if they had recently spent more time together, and seemed to anticipate each other's moves.

Sarah Jones had a mostly good outing in the goal, losing one pop-up in the 26th minute of the first half. In one scrum late in the half, she came away not only with the ball in hand but with a boot in the jaw, which sent her briefly to the sidelines. She returned in the second half, playing midfield.

The problem wasn't that Williston allowed St. Francis to score, but that they allowed the Wolves to spend too much time in their half of the field. The Devils set up for the trap defense, with most of their speed merchants in the back half, and did garner at least one offside call. On offense, however, they had trouble keeping the ball hammered up high long enough to reap the reward for the risk.

Williston got away with it for the first half, going down only 2-0 at the break. St. Francis made them pay in the second half, though, peppering Roxanne Krause and scoring a few minutes after the break.

The Wolves seemed to gain confidence with the big lead, and hammered balls at the goal for much of the second half. But with a sense of nothing to lose, Krause punched out ball after ball, holding off the attack for the rest of the game.

Despite the confusion, the Lady Devils kept working doggedly. Chelsie Wright played a good game, attacking the ball and finding defensive holes to exploit. Kayla Carnegie also battled on offense, attacking against a tenacious St. Francis defense. Cecilia Morales, Stephanie Bradley and Katelyn Wilson also kept working to get in synch with the scheme.

"This game was mainly a tuneup," Aguirre said afterward. "We've got four games in the next six days."

In the countdown to districts, every outing is a chance for more experience. For Williston's youngsters, Saturday's loss was a great opportunity to do the hard work on game day. Williston hosts Bronson Friday at 6:30 for Senior Night.