One team kept a streak going while on had a winning streak snapped.
Opening with Friday Night Futbol against Napoleon, the Defiance girls soccer team started the season with a tie while the boys fell to the Cats.
Despite dominating visiting Napoleon offensively, outshooting the Cats 16-4, the Defiance girls soccer team settled for a 1-all tie again their river rival to start the girls soccer season.
“It’s a fun cross-river rivalry,” Defiance coach Rafael Manriquez said of opening against Napoleon. “It’s a fun experience when you get your rival the first game of the season.”
“The intensity level was high,” admitted Napoleon coach Mike Murphy. “It’s the first official game of the season. I was happy with the way our girls play, especially the way they showed heart and grit coming back from a goal down.”
Defiance was holding a 1-0 lead when Napoleon tied the game with 19:35 left to play. A collision on the field led to Defiance keeper Raelle Gonzales off her feet, and Napoleon’s Ella Griffith took advantage and stuck in what proved to be the game-tying goal.
It now marks the 11th year in a row Defiance has not lost the team from the other side of the river.
The Lady Bullogs outshot Napoleon 9-3 in the second half. Despite tries — namely two by Carlee Smiddy banged off the goal – Defiance could not find the back of the net in the second half.
“We can learn from this and get better,” admitted Manriquez. “This game was a lot last last year. We had some opportunities. Hopefully, the ball can bounce our way the next few weeks.”
Defiance settled for a single goal in the first half. After two free bouncing balls on corner kicks were turned away by Napoleon defenders Abby Naas and Kevalyn Boettner.
“They took a quick corner kick on us,” said Murphy. “They got set up right away. We recognize that, and they didn’t do it again.”
However, the third time was the charm on the corner kick. Once again, a bouncing ball was free around the Napoleon net, and this time Carlee Smiddy was able to send the ball just into the goal past the endline enough to get the score with 7:31 left in the half.
“We had a lot of opportunities, which obviously we are happy about,” said the Defiance coach. “We have to finish those things. This almost feels like a loss.”
Before that, the Ladycats nearly had a goal on its first shot on goal. Looking at an open net ahead of her, Shae Pedroza pushed a shot just left of the net.
Defiance had another chance late in the half, but Napoleon’s Olivia Weaver was able to step up and make a play.
In boys action, a Napoleon team bringing back experience handled a young Defiance team 3-0.
“We knew it was going to be a struggle this year,” admitted Defiance coach Eric Burns. “We graduated 16 seniors last year. Our team this year is 80 percent freshmen. I told the guys there was going to be some growing pains this year. We need to learn and get better game by game.”
The Wildcats wasted no time, scoring a goal from Drew Grant from 25 yards out just three-and-a-half minutes into the contest.
“It’s tough, we couldn’t match up with their speed,” Burns said of the Cats. “They just kept feeding through balls. It just wore us down.”
Roughly 20 minutes later, Jesus Cruz fed Devin Boettner for the second Napoleon goal.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy,” stated Napoleon coach Chris DelFavero. “I was excited about our effort. We brought what I thought we needed to bring to a rivalry game. I thought we were the better team.”
The Cats had a chance for one more in the final five seconds, but three cracks at a goal were turned away by the Bulldogs.
Napoleon continued to apply the pressure and tacked one a final goal by Boettner with 29:12 to play. It came after Defiance keeper Carter Campbell came out and made a sliding stop.
Twice in the final 15 minutes of the game, Napoleon also had chances that bounced off the bottomside of the crossbar, only to stay out of the goal.
“I thought I saw the net move,” DelFavero said of the opportunities. “The ref didn’t see the ball go over the line so it wasn’t a goal.”
Napoleon finished with 19 shots to nine for Defiance.
“I think we are heading in the right direction” Burns said of the chances the Dogs had in the game. “We were mainly defensive based. We’re working on getting the guys to possess the ball. It’s different thann the way they played in club.”
The Defiance girls team will be back in action next Saturday when they host Wauseon. The boys team is off until Aug. 27, when they start WBL play at home against Van Wert.