The Solon Comets girls soccer team found themselves in a bind.
After dominating through most of their season opening match, it was a new game as Madison tied the score 1-1 when senior Emma Burgard tapped the ball in after Comets’ junior goalkeeper Maureen Bouza couldn’t snare a corner kick off the foot of Blue Streaks’ senior Reagan Swinarski.
Solon (1-0-0) wasn’t interested in settling for a tie and senior forward Allie Maersch sent the Comets home with the 2-1 season opening victory when she volleyed a corner kick from senior midfielder Jamie Simmerson into the net inside the 75th minute of regulation last Saturday afternoon at Madison.
It snapped a four year stretch of the Comets losing their season opener.
According to Solon coach Lauren Wilson, Madison dialed up its offensive pressure in the second half and it felt like a matter of time before the Blue Streaks put the ball in the back of the net.
“They were able to spread us out and open up the field more,” noted the eight-year coach. “We were diving in a little bit and weren’t pressing them and because of that they spread us out and there were a lot more gaps so they were going one versus one a little bit more. They had some speed on the right side of the field and were really attacking on that side.”
Madison broke through with the equalizer inside the 60th minute of regulation.
“The corner kick went off of Maureen’s finger tips,” said Wilson. “It bounced right on the ground into the back post and Burgard just tapped it in.”
Solon struck first in the opening half when sophomore midfielder McKenna Bauza scored her first career varsity goal inside the 30th minute of play off a free kick from senior defender Sydney Carlton.
“I don’t know if it deflected off one of our players or one of their players,” noted the eight-year Solon coach. “Sydney took the free kick and sent the ball in towards the goal and there was one or two passes and it went through traffic and came out on top of the box. McKenna just left footed it into the low left corner to score.”
Bauza is one of the several new faces on the offense this year. The Comets lost six starters from last year and most of them were on the offensive side of the ball.
The offense is still a work in progress but is trending in the right direction thanks to help of underclassmen such as Bauza.
“It was the first varsity minutes for McKenna and she was able to have that confidence to hit on top of the box and score our first goal,” said Wilson. “Having her confidence and creativity on the ball and distribution, she’s obviously not afraid to strike.”
With so many new players on offense, Wilson said that the plan is to lean on the defense while the offense comes together.
The Comets’ defense proved stingy in the first half.
“We got Madison caught offsides several times,” said Wilson. “Our defense was doing a really nice job at staying connected, pushing up and holding a line while working together to deny their balls from over top.”
After the Blue Streaks knotted up the score, the Comets rose to the challenge and engineered a nice response with Marsch’s go ahead goal.
The senior Solon midfielder is entering her fourth year on the varsity team and is expected to have a bigger role in the offense.
“Allie’s had a key role in creating width on our team and being aggressive,” explained Wilson. “She’s done her fair share of scoring but we had two previous players that were the playmakers up top so Allie just got scrappy goals from being aggressive and hustling through. I think for her senior year, she’s just hungry and wants to go out on top. We definitely will focus on Allie’s speed and endurance on the flank.”
After the Comets took the lead, they kept Madison from recording another shot at the net through the closing minutes.
“I was really proud of our effort and fight,” said Wilson. “We didn’t give up when we gave up the goal and fought back. We weren’t satisfied with a tie and Madison wasn’t able to find the back of the net with five minutes left.”
It was a gratifying win to kick off a season that actually started on time compared to last year when the Comets did not kick off their regular season until the middle of September.
Most high school teams were already four weeks into their seasons by the time Solon took the field and Wilson admitted her team was behind the eight ball most of the year. Things started coming together at the right time for the Comets to make it to the district semifinals for the fifth straight season.
“We were just starting while teams were in the middle of their season,” Wilson said. “We had worked out all these kinks and everything so we always felt like we were trailing behind and finally towards the end of last year things started clicking.”
Now that the Comets are on a normal routing, Wilson is hopeful things will start to fall in place a lot quicker.
After Solon’s first road game of the season on Aug. 25 against Walsh Jesuit, the Comets will keep traveling and play at Mayfield at 3:00 pm on Aug. 28.