BY ETHAN LILLARD
Fort Madison’s girls soccer team (4-3) had averaged 2.33 goals scored per game on the season coming into Monday’s home match against Iowa City Liberty (4-3).
That average dipped to an even 2 points per game after Monday’s contest, as the Bloodhounds found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-0 shutout.
“Our objective was to contain them,” Fort Madison Head Coach Sebastian Seifert said. “They were a strong team, we knew that going into it. We were trying to keep them at 0 for as long as we could. We don’t have a very deep bench, so with the heat and the weather you could just tell the girls were starting to be exhausted.”
Neither team could put together enough solid offense to get on the scoreboard during the first half at Baxter’s Sports Complex, with both teams putting a concerted effort on the defense side of the field.
For Seifert the message at the half was simple.
“The message was to not let them score,” he said. “When you’re tied up, you’re not losing. The instructions were to try to contain them and maybe get a break away counter attack, or free kick, penalty kick, whatever it may be, and try to score.”
Iowa City Liberty’s Isabel Machlab broke the scoreless drought after breaking past the Hound defense less than five minutes into the second half. The 1-0 score could have been extended even further, but Fort Madison’s Jose Pumphrey came up with leaping stops, holding the Lightning in check.
“She always has some good saves,” Seifert said. “She’s a very valuable goalie for us.”
Emma Wilde was finally able to get the ball past Pumphrey in the 17th minute of the second half. Liberty had control in the box and took advantage of an errant ball that bounced off a Hound defender, taking a 2-0 lead.
Fort Madison had a chance at a penalty kick two minutes later, but on a gusty day, the ball sailed away out of bounds.
With just six minutes remaining in the match, Liberty’s Megan Sulwer attempted another goal from within the box, but the ball glanced off a Hound defender. Playing heads up off the ball offense, Briana Ervin took a shot from the right side of the box and sent it into the far left side of the goal past Pumphrey, sealing the 3-0 win.
“Our communication needs to improve,” Seifert said. “We have a great group of girls. I don’t think the majority of them have played soccer but maybe a year or two as 5- or 6-year-olds. It’s a fun group that works really hard. We just take it a step at a time.”
The Bloodhounds next game is against Keokuk at Keokuk on Thursday.