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  • Val T.

Villegas’ goal, Heath’s stop on PK highlight Culver’s win over Rochester

Officiating frustrates Rensberger after loss; Culver’s M. Hamilton, Rochester’s Bradley hurt


Sports Editor, RTC

Culver coach A.J. Neace said he spends time at practice every day with goalkeeper Sophia Heath working on stopping penalty kicks.

That practice paid off at the Brent Blacketor Memorial Sports Complex Thursday as Heath made a sprawling stop to her right to deny Macie Nelson’s penalty kick try with 1:50 left to preserve Culver’s 3-2 win over Rochester.

Giselle Villegas scored the game-winning goal with 5:11 left to break a 2-2 tie. Rochester

Giselle Villegas

goalkeeper Kaillie Woods appeared to win a race to a loose ball with the sprinting Villegas, but her clearing try deflected off Villegas and rolled to the back of the net.

“It was really unexpected,” Villegas said. “I tripped and just hit it with my knee.”

“I always tell my girls to clean up the garbage,” Neace said. “Anything on the goal that bounces off, clean it up. I take that from ‘Miracle On Ice.’ You’ve always got to clean up the garbage.”

Kassidy Banks and Kaylee Hamilton scored within the first 22 minutes to give Culver a 2-0 lead.

Emma Howdeshell and Nelson had the Rochester goals. Nelson’s goal, which came with Heath briefly on the bench nursing an injury, tied the game with 3:18 left in the half.

But the Lady Zs never scored again.

Both teams left with injury concerns. Culver freshman Maddy Hamilton had to be carried off the field with what Neace described as an ankle injury. He said afterwards that he believed it was “nothing major.”

Rochester junior Kendyll Bradley was hurt after being fouled with 20:27 left and was being checked for a rib injury.

Rochester had two penalty kick tries in the second half, and Heath stopped both. She turned away Howdeshell with 34:16 left before an even bigger stop on Nelson.

“I drill her every day on that,” Neace said of Heath’s aptitude at stopping penalty kicks. “Every day we do PKs at the end of practice. That’s how I end my practice. And she did a hell of a job stopping those PKs. That kept us in the game.”

Woods stopped a Kaylee Hamilton penalty kick with 17:31 left, and Rochester escaped danger from three ensuing Culver corner kicks that followed Woods’ save.

Lillith Eaton assisted on Howdeshell’s goal with 14:44 left in the half. Eaton also unleashed a high kick from 35 yards out that went over Heath’s head but clanked off the crossbar. That came less than seven minutes after Nelson also had a shot that banged off the bar, and it came 17 minutes before a Rochester goal was disallowed on an offsides call.

That call was one of many that frustrated Rochester coach Chantal Rensberger.

“Referees,” Rensberger said when asked what the decisive factor was. “Sorry, I’m just going to be point blank blunt. You can;t have girls be called offsides when they’re not offsides. You can’t have a girl push the ball on the ground and not call a PK on it. I’m usually not one to say that refs are the issue, but when it’s a constant all game long and girls are getting hurt, it was out of control. Usually, I’m not that type of person because I’m a referee myself, but I really felt like the reffing could have been a little bit better, and it just didn’t fall in our advantage.”

Rensberger also noted there were a lot of long crossing passes without probing the middle of the field. She would also like to see more quick, one-touch shots.

Rensberger also noted the start of the game. While Rochester’s wins over Tippecanoe Valley and Peru were by a combined 26-1 score, the most recent losses to Logansport and Culver came in games in which they were tied in the second half.

“On top of that, we had 20 minutes where we came out flat,” Rensberger said. “The intensity level with some of these girls is they think they’re better than what they are. And sometimes when you play competition that battles back and you win games against teams like Valley and Peru and you slaughter them, you get a big head. And then we face teams that are great, and then it’s like, ‘Oh my God, they’re good.’ Well, yeah, that’s the game of soccer.”

Watch entire game here:

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