CLINTON — With gusts ranging in the mid-20s, it seemed a third opponent took the field during Thursday night's Big East soccer contest between Northeast and Prince of Peace. The Rebels handled both, notching a 2-0 victory.
"We did a good job keeping the ball on the ground, playing the wind and making those easy passes," said Rebels coach Sarah Schoon, her team earning its first win in seven tries. "It's definitely going to build up our confidence."
Each half showcased different phases of the game. The Rebels started with the wind to their backs, giving them an advantage offensively.
Even so, scoring was hard to come by until, with 4:52 left in the half, Northeast junior defenseman Brett Hoyer kicked a 40-yard, high-bouncing shot that looked like an intended pass. On its second bounce, aided by the wind, the ball arched out of reach of Irish keeper Caleb Kitteringham, breaking the tie.
Two minutes later, Rebels senior Danny Specht gathered his own rebound and right-footed a 30-yard bender from the left side to the upper right post. The shot even surprised Specht.
"I'm a left-footer," Specht said, "and at first I tried kicking it with my left foot. It came off to my right side, and I just got lucky with the wind."
In the second half, it was the Irish's turn to go on the attack. Facing the wind made it difficult for Northeast to push the ball beyond midfield, but Prince of Peace was unable to capitalize.
The ball made it past Northeast keeper Ethan Krogman three times in the second half, but Rebels defenders were there to clear each time.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, a foul gave Irish freshman Dakota Michels a penalty kick and a chance to cut the deficit. Krogman denied him with a diving save to his right, securing momentum and ultimately a road win.
"I don't really know what I was thinking," Krogman said of the save. "I kind of baited him by sliding to the left, hoping he would kick it right, which he did."
Schoon credited Krogman's second-half performance as key to securing the win.
"He did an awesome job coming out with a shutout," she said. "He came up big."
The loss dropped Prince of Peace's record to 0-2. Coach Rafael Simmons said Thursday's contest could have swung either way given the elements.
"Whoever won the toss for the pick of the sides got lucky to go out in the first half and attack with the wind," he said. "I thought we did a good job for 35 minutes of that half, and then in the last five minutes, we conceded two goals. In the second half, we pressured as much as we could, trying to use the wind."
He hopes to work on finishing those opportunities as the Irish regroup in practice.
"But those kind of chances, they can go either way," Simmons said. "If we got a toe on it and put it in the net, it could've been a different story."
Up next for Prince of Peace is a trip to Eldridge for the North Scott Invitational Tournament today and Saturday. Meanwhile, Northeast will travel to face Monticello at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.