The Newton High School girls’ soccer team didn’t have much attack for the first 50 minutes in the Class 5A regional semifinals against Andover, but found the back of the net twice in the final 30 minutes for a 2-1 win.
The Railers avenge a 1-0 loss to the Trojans from earlier this season and improve to 9-8. Andover ends the season 7-9-1.
“We were able to keep some possession up front,” Newton coach Scott Jantzi said. “Possession was about even in the first half. We were able to get that first goal. That got the momentum on our side. We were able to get that second goal. Unfortunately, they were able to get one late. I’m very proud of the girls. They were able to come back from a 1-0 loss to them early in the season.”
After giving up three shots to start the second half, Newton scored on a breakaway in the 51st minute by freshman Kenzi Gillispie on a pass from Aspen Olson.
“I’ve never played forward before, but I just did what the coach told me,” Gillispie said. “I took what he said. “This could be the seniors last game, so I took that and went out there. When we got that goal, it triggered something and we got another goal. That’s my third or fourth goal. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Knowing we needed a goal, we changed positions around a little bit and we played well. It wasn’t an individual thing. Everyone had a lot of motivation.”
Six minutes later, sophomore Maddie Edson put a high, looping shot into the back of the net.
Newton was able to control possession for most of the remaining time.
“I got a beatiful pass from Abby (Edson),” Maddie Edson said. “I was able to get under it. I’m moving around a lot and I like that. That was my first goal. Kenzi’s goal really helped us and we just wanted to finish it off. We just have to keep pushing, moving hard and going forward.”
Andover did finally score with 17 seconds remaining in regulation on a breakaway by Issy Bleakley on a pass from Tatum Dennis.
Newton was outshot 9-6 for the game. Megan Million had eight saves for the Railers, including a couple of hockey-type “pad saves” that she stopped with her legs.
“It was just a little bit of bad coverage in the back,” Million said of the late goal. “Nobody saw the player coming. I had a couple of times where I wasn’t able to catch it. I just bent my knees and stopped it.”
Million, a senior, spent the past three seasons as back-up to Megan Akers, now rowing for Kansas. She finally got her chance to start this season.
“I was expecting a chance last year, but it didn’t happen,” Million said. “I said, ‘that’s fine, I’m getting my chance this year. I don’t care who’s trying out.”
Shannon Young had five saves in goal for the Trojans.
Andover held about a 55-45 advantage in possession in the first half and outshot the Railers 3-2 although neither team had many serious shots. Both Newton shots were high loopers that were easily stopped.
Newton was outshot 3-0 to open the second half before the Railers scored on their next two shots.
Each team had two more shots in the remaining time before Andover finally broke through.
Newton faces top-seeded Valley Center at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Valley Center District Stadium. The Railers fell to the Hornets 1-0 earlier this year.
“They are a quality squad,” Jantzi said. “They are a very-well organized, quality squad. We’re going to have to defend very well and when we go forward, we will have to take advantage of that. In the first match-up, we were able to keep compact. They got a late goal from about 30 yards out. Hopefully, we can get a better result this time. They have a wider field, so we will have to defend very well.”
1. N Kenzie Gillispie (Aspen Olson) 50:28
2. N Maddie Edson (Abby Edson) 56:24
3. A Issy Bleakley (Tatum Dennis) 79:43
Total shots — And. 3-6—9, New. 2-4—6. Shots on goal — And. 3-6—9, New. 2-4—6. Saves — And.: Shannon Young (L) 2-2—4. New.: Megan Million (W) 3-5—8. Corner kicks — And. 3, New. 0. Fouls — And. 6, New. 7. Offside — And. 0, New. 0. Cautions — none.