Clarion River Valley Strikers U-12 Green Team Win Back to Back Games (09/20/16)
(By Matt Lerch)
The Clarion River Valley Strikers U12 Green Team won the first two games of the season in stellar fashion. Their first game was played Sunday, September 11th, against Shenango Valley at the Strikers’ home fields, the Clarion County Park, and won 5-1.
The U12 Green team was assisted on the bench by three U10 Striker players Thomas Uckert, Wyatt Boyden and Kaden Baumcratz. The scoring began by Shanango Valley surprising the Strikers midfield right off the bat, by passing down the field, cruising through the Clarion defense and shooting for a Shenango Valley lead 1-0. Undaunted, the Strikers offense decided that would be the only score by the opponent by pressing on the accelerator and never letting their foot off the pedal.
After Drew Slaugenhaupt shot on goal and the goalie stopped the ball, the goalie attempted to clear but Taylor Alston intercepted the ball and came in for the first score for Clarion.
As Shenango Valley attempted to enter Clarion territory, the Clarion defense anchored by Anna Gribik and flanked by Blaise Cunningham and Francis Kassibama, shut down their attempts. Mariah Beary attempted a shot only to be stopped by the goalie. Forward Aaron Bashline took the game into his own hands by entering enemy territory and shooting a solo blast for the second Clarion score. At the half it was Clarion winning 2-1.
Alston started the final frame by assisting on a goal by Drew Slaugenhaupt. Midfielder Gia Babington shot on goal with a blast only to bang the right post. Babington then stayed around the goal hunting. Right wing Emma Goughler crossed through traffic shooting on goal and with a rebound; Babington snuck a goal past the right post just out of reach of the outstretched goalie.
With a speedy forward from Shenango Valley approaching the Clarion net, Kassibama sprinted back to help defenseless Lerch and saved the shot on goal with a steal. Soon after, Midfielder Colson Ritzert scored the final goal unassisted with a blast top right corner. Lerch finished the game with 6 saves.
On Sunday, September 18th, the U12 Green Team marched confidently into the midst of one of the toughest teams in the league, Kinzua in Warren, PA. With game one behind them, this team was ready for action with help on the bench from the U12 White team Max Southworth, Lexi Coull and Alex Leadbetter.
The first half was dominated by Clarion, starting with Midfielder Lexi Coull scoring a blast unassisted for the first score. Subsequently, a slick pass from Lexi Coull to midfielder Colson Ritzert scored the second Clarion goal, with more to come. Defender Karlie Clark stopped an advance by Kinzua on a 2 on 1 rush. Alston tried an advance with a shot missing the goal by inches. Once again, standout defender Gribik caused commotion multiple times in the midfield denying Kinzua any chance to get a shot on her goalie. Netminder Lerch saw no shots on his goal in the first half due to the unrelenting Clarion defense.
To start the second half, midfielder Babington cruised down the sideline with the ball with a Kinzua defender in hot pursuit. Boxed into the corner Babington pulled a trick shot out and passed to awaiting Coull who then bump passed to Ritzert for his second score. Babington then shot twice within five minutes, both blasts ricocheting off the goal posts at high speed. Forward Bashline then slipped through the defense and shot on goal but was denied by their goalie. Lerch saw more action in the second half stopping two worthwhile Kinzua advances, robbing them of a clean shot by falling on the rolling ball. Southworth working the sidelines all game, took the ball with speed with two purple defenders trying to stop his progress unsuccessfully. Southworth crossed the pass only to have the perfection stopped by the Kinzua defense at the last second. Kinzua marched upfield with the ball only to be stopped by Leadbetter and Cunningham’s awesome defense.
The final score came from none other than a combination from Gia Babington to Colson Ritzert, awarding Ritzert his hat trick goal. The shutout by Lerch included 8 recorded saves. Coach Kevin Griffin, a Clarion University student, said after the game “our team looked extremely good this afternoon. Colson’s hattrick was made possible by great passes and Anna Gribik’s mastery of running the defense saved Isaac in goal. I am very pleased with this 4-0 shutout and we will work hard this week to prepare for Mercer.” The U12 Green Team travels to Mercer September 25th to attempt a 3-0 start.
(Thanks to Matt Lerch for this article and photos. GREAT START, STRIKERS!!!!)