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First-half outburst pushes Blue Streaks past Bears
First-half outburst pushes Blue Streaks past BearsStory by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet

For the second game in a row, the Magnificat soccer team was held scoreless in the second half.

But with a 3-0 halftime lead, the Blue Streaks had provided just enough firepower to get another win.

Magnificat moved to 4-0 on the season Thursday night with a 3-0 win over North Royalton at Rocky River Stadium. On Saturday, the Blue Streaks upped that record a notch to 5-0 with a 3-1 win over Notre Dame Academy.

"This is our second game where we won by holding the other team without a goal," said Magnificat's first-year head coach Gretchen Micklitsch, whose team was coming off a 4-0 win over Padua. All four Blue Streak goals were scored in the first half in that game as well

"Yet, again we weren't able to score a goal in the second half, so that's something we have to work on," Michlitsch said. "That's OK, but we need to learn how to keep that intensity high throughout the entire game.

"But we still came away with the win, so I'm happy with that."

In the first eight minutes, the visiting Bears went toe-to-toe with the Blue Streaks. An offsides call in the very first minute thwarted an attack in the box, and a North Royalton corner resulted in a shot that went wide right in the eighth minute.

Magnificat began to exert some offensive pressure of its own with a pair of corners just two minutes later. The Streaks' aggressiveness paid off in the 14th minute when sophomore midfielder Alyssa Baumbick scored off an assist from senior forward Natalie Coury.

As it turned out, that goal with 26:38 left in the first half was the only one Magnificat would need.

Still, the Streaks kept coming. A Baumbick-to-Evelyn Lavelle attack was stopped by the Bears' senior goalie, Nikki Zeilmann, in the 24th minute. Then the Streaks' third corner of the game resulted in a rebound shot and goal by junior midfielder Natalie Niehaus with 13:51 left in the half.

Magnificat's third goal came via a crossing shot from the right side by sophomore midfielder Anne Ubbing. The ball found its way to senior midfielder Jaycee Brown, who hit a crossing shot past Zeilmann for the third - and final - goal of the game.

Zeilmann, who remained busy in the second half, made several big saves to keep her team in the game. But the Bears were unable to much of an attack the rest of the way.

"She's a senior captain and has worked very hard," said Bears head coach Pete Ragone about his senior keeper. "She believes in leading by example, and she certainly did that tonight."

North Royalton had a pair of chances right before the half, but one soared over the crossbar and the other - a breakaway by sophomore Jessica Stauss - was stopped by the Streaks' sophomore keeper, Eva Dills.

In the second half, senior Angela Spilker took a crossing pass and sent a shot toward the inside of the post. But Dills was there again to keep the Bears off the scoreboard in the 48th minute. the visitors had one corner attempt early in the 65th minute that was cleared out by the home team.

"At halftime, I told our players they had to play for pride," Ragone said. "You can't hang your heads. I told them 'you've got to play hard,' and they did.

"Before the game, Magnificat was more mentally prepared. Although in the first five minutes, I thought we completely out-played them. We played phenomenal. But things started to change as the game went on.

"Our girls have to learn that the game is 80 minutes long, and there err some things each one of them has to do individually to better themselves. Hopefully they've learned that tonight. This is the best team we've played so far, and this is the first game of the rest of the season.

"Every game the rest of the way is going to be like this, because that's how tough our schedule is," he added. The Bears play Holy Name Monday before taking on Hudson on Wednesday.

On Saturday, North Royalton got back on the winning side of things with a hard-fought 1-0 win over rival Brecksville. Senior Briana Steward had the lone goal of the game, while Zeilmann recorded eight saves.

In the win over Notre Dame Academy, Magnificat got goals from by Brown, Baumbick and Ubbing.

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