Making her first varsity start Tyler Chase posts a shutout to lead St. Marys past Gresham 1-0

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - St. Marys Sienna Li cuts in front of a pair of Gophers to control a ball during the Blues 1-0 win over Gresham on Wednesday night.

GRESHAM — Back-to-back losses last week toppled St. Mary’s from the top of the Mount Hood Conference girls soccer standings for the first time this season. But the Blues moved back into contention Wednesday night with a 1-0 win at Gresham.

St. Mary’s found the net in the early stages of play when Karen Myers looped a free kick in front of the goal, and teammate Kathleen McIntyre was first to get a foot on it, sending it into the far corner for a 1-0 lead.

“I try to put the ball into a place where we can make a run at it and really attack the ball,” Myers said. “We’ve had some problems scoring, so getting that early one boosted our energy.”

Gresham spent the next hour sending a flurry of attacks the other direction, but nothing got past the keeper allowing the Blues to leave with the victory. St. Mary’s relied on freshman Tyler Chase in goal, filling in for regular starter Nesha Eaton, who was out with the flu.

“Tyler is a great keeper, but when you have someone in their first game like that you never know how nerves will show up,” St. Mary’s coach Rob Warnell said.

Chase kept herself in position to neutralize a series of Gresham attacks and record the shutout.

Gresham’s best opportunity came on Staci Tatum’s corner kick, which deflected off a pair of heads in front of the goal. But the ball went over the cross bar and got trapped in the netting above the frame.

Tatum had a near miss again midway through the second half when her free kick from the top of the 18-yard box cleared a four-person wall of bouncing defenders only to curve about a foot wide of the far post.

“I was pleased with our work rate tonight,” Gresham coach Kathy Childress said. “We created a lot of scoring opportunities, but we just didn’t make it happen.”

St. Mary’s finished off the victory when Hayley Stutzman cut in front of a Gresham player to win a ball in the midfield. Teammate M.L. Marx played a header into the box, and Sienna Li hammered a hard shot at the bottom corner. Gresham goalie Melissa Smith moved over in time to make the stop.

While the attack didn’t move the scoreboard it did allow the Blues to hold possession in Gresham’s end for a key three-minute stretch late in the game.

The Gophers only chance over the last 10 minutes came on a deep throw-in, which Amber Peschka sent across the mouth of the goal only to see it bounce harmlessly through to the other side of the field.

The top three teams in the MHC are just three points apart in the standings heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Central Catholic (7-1-0) is the new leader, followed by Gresham (7-2-0) and St. Mary’s (6-2-0).

“These last couple weeks will be very interesting,” Warnell said. “It may be a matter of who can win out, but I expect it to come down to the last day of the season.”

View a photo gallery of tonight’s game at …

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