RIVERSIDE — Two very evenly matched teams faced off in Tuesday’s incendiary rival game at Carroll. The Patriots faced off against their rivals but finished with a 1-0 loss.
From the beginning, Carroll kept the ball largely in Knights territory, but Alter kept a tight lid over its goal. From early on the Lady Patriots’ normal methods of ingress into the box were stifled by Alter defenders, including freshman Kylie Krynzel, sophomore Grace Vollmar, and senior captain Abbey Sapita.
With a little over 16 minutes left in the first half, Alter centered the ball on the Patriots goal from the left, perfectly set for freshman Natalie Busher to slam it home for the score. Doubling down on their defense, Alter forced the Patriots to either relinquish possession or take shots from almost 20 yards out.
During the second half, the Patriots relentlessly hammered at the Knights box, but were unable to finish their shots, often going wide or over the crossbar. Carroll poured on the pressure, shots on the box coming thick and fast up until the buzzer, but Alter’s ironclad defense earned them the 1-0 win.
Despite the loss, Patriots coach Sarah Flach was optimistic about this game as a learning experience for the girls. “We knew they were a very good team. They’ve become number one in the state for Division 2, and we always get a good game out of them. They’re always strong. We came out ready, there were a couple mental lapses, but all the credit goes to them [Alter]. They are very good defensively, they took us out of what we wanted to do successfully, and we just never adapted to it. All these regular season games are great, we love the competition and we love getting better, but they’re really all ultimately practice for the postseason. So that’s what we’ll take it, we’ll take it as a learning experience, there’s lots of things we could definitely get better at.”
Alter coach Javier Iriart expressed pride at the girls’ ability to overcome last year’s postseason loss to the Patriots, and talked about being cool in the face of emotional rivalry games such as this one. “They had this one circled for a while. We prepared as best we could and we’re happy that we could come in and execute. It’s hard to manage the emotions on a day-to-day, game-to-game basis, but I give 100 percent credit to not only the whole group, but especially the leaders of the team who are able to keep everyone on a level head.”
Carroll’s record now stands at 9-1-1, heading into their Saturday game at Oakwood. Alter’s record stands at 7-1 as they face off Saturday against Indian Hill.
London Bishop is a sports freelancer for Greene County News.