Lehighton coach Dave Yob admitted he was diasppointed with his team's Mountain Valley Conference opener a few weeks ago against Pocono Mountain East.
With a little bit of added motivation from their coach, the rematch was much more competitive. The Indians were within reach of a victory on Wednesday afternoon, but the Cardinals posted two-first half goals to escape with a 2-0 victory.
Heading into the game, Yob hadn't been happy with the way his team had been playing against conference foes, who had outscored the Indians 32-6 in their six previous games.
"We had two good scrimmages prior to our MVC opener against East and the kids had moved the ball and they communicated, but I think the problem here is they get the mindset that when they're playing some of these MVC teams that, 'Ah, we're going to get killed today' and I think that's what happened the first time," Yob said. "I told them that until they start playing hard and beating a couple of these conference teams that nobody will stop taking us lightly."
The first time around, the Cardinals had five goals prior to halftime. This time, Alyssa Simeone's goal with 36:03 left in the first half and Sophie Conklin's score with 25:15 left off a Jasmin Lalin assist were all the Cardinals could get past the Indians' sophomore keeper Kayla Troutman. In the second half, Troutman held them scoreless. She fnished the game with 11 saves.
"Kayla's a major reason why we can stay close with some of these MVC teams lately," said Yob. "Kayla has done a great job this year. She's more aggressive coming out of the net. She's more vocal in directing her teammates.
"Last year, as a freshman, she was very quiet. She didn't want to overstep her boundaries. This year, she's made great strides."
Indian defenders Kristina Schnell, Taylor Walck, Schyler Cordova, and Carissa Sevren have been making strides themselves. The Cardnals got off the same number of shots (17) this time around, but from much more difficult locations on the field.
"The kids in front of her are doing fine," said Yob, of his defenders. "We have nobody that not to slight anybody but no stud in the middle, but collectively they cover for each other really well. If one makes a mistake, somebody else is there. And, if they all make a mistake, then there's Kayla."
Yob was all smiles with the Indians' improvement defensively, although he was hoping for a goal or two by the offense. The Indians (3-7 overall; 1-6 MVC) got off four shots on goal compared to one the first time but the Cardinals' keepers Amy Overpeck and Loren Fish recorded another shutout.
"They have some players on the field that aren't as experienced in soccer, but Lehighton's a school that has a lot of good athletes," Pocono Mountain East coach Keith Dickerson said. "I think they can only continue to improve. Every year we play them, the second time we see them around they give us a game.
"They're just trying to put some of the pieces together. I give them credit. There's always effort and there definitely was some there today."