by Josh Decker
The Cedarville Lady Jackets secured a solid 2-0 victory over a winless Malone side on Thursday night. The result improves the Jackets’ record to 7-4-1 this season, including a dominant 7-2 G-MAC record.
Olivia Hoffman made her season debut after struggling with injury last season and the start of this season.
“I just felt really grateful and excited to be back out there playing,” remarked Hoffman. “I was reminded of what an opportunity it is.”
Both teams started the game off by trading possession and attempting to establish momentum.
Early on, Malone managed to put together a bit of sustained possession, but Cedarville’s defense did not allow any quality offensive chances for the Pioneers.
In the eighth minute, Malone put a shot on goal that was easily saved by the Cedarville goalkeeper, but from that point onward, the Lady Jackets’ offense started to get more comfortable in the attack.
16 minutes into the contest, Wyer drilled an accurate ball downfield for her teammate Audrey Nelson, who managed to slip behind the Malone defenders and create a breakaway. Nelson put the ball on goal, but the Malone goalkeeper came out to make the sliding save.
A minute later, freshman Megan McClish sent a shot just over the net as momentum started to clearly shift to the Lady Jackets.
Continued offensive pressure gave Cedarville a corner kick, but Malone defended the play well.
Halfway through the first half, Hoffman subbed in for the Lady Jackets for the first time this year since suffering an injury, and she made an immediate impact on the pitch.
In the 26th minute, junior Anna Burkhard made a great run for Cedarville, continuing to pressure the Malone defense, though Malone recovered well to not allow a shot.
The Lady Jackets continued to earn corner kicks and establish offensive possession, but Cedarville was unable to capitalize on any of the opportunities.
With only five minutes remaining in the half, Malone forward Madeleine Ault took advantage of a Cedarville turnover and gained possession in the attacking third of the pitch. However, senior defender Mackenzie Northcutt stood strong and forced Ault to shoot wide of the net.
Going into the break, Cedarville led in shots, but the score remained knotted at zero.
Entering the final 45 minutes, the Lady Jackets picked up right where they left off on offense.
Within three minutes, Cedarville had already forced two corner kicks, but still without a goal to show for all of the quality chances.
In the 56th minute, Hoffman sent a ball toward the net, but the shot missed wide. She delivered a beautiful corner kick that led to a Marisa Hoober goal in the 57th minute, which would prove to be the game-winner and her first of the season. Junior Mary Kate Wyer then scored again for Cedarville only three minutes later to seal the victory.
“On the corner, I was just hoping to put it in a spot that someone would be able to finish,” said Hoffman. “Thankfully, Marisa got up for it and was able to put one in for us.”
With the renewed momentum, Cedarville continued to pressure Malone, and only three minutes later, the Lady Jackets fired home another goal.
After a string of Cedarville passes worked the ball into the final third of the pitch, Wyer took control of the ball and delivered a strike past the Malone goalkeeper to put the Lady Jackets up 2-0.
“I honestly didn’t think it was going to go in,” said Wyer about her goal. “But when it did, I was excited and knew our team could hold on for the win.”As time wound down in the game, Cedarville’s backline continued to stand strong, not allowing any quality offensive chances for the Pioneers. The Lady Jackets finished the game outshooting their opponents 16-7, and ended the night with a total of eight corner kicks.
“It was a hard-fought match and we really started to connect well in the second half,” said Northcutt. “Now we can look forward to our game against Findlay and bring that same competitive edge to hopefully get another win.”
The Lady Jackets are set to host the Oilers this coming Saturday, Oct. 16th in a key G-MAC matchup. Kick-off for the match is set for 5 p.m.
Josh Decker is a senior Sport Business Management major, and a sports reporter for Cedars. He loves playing sports with friends, and spends much of his free time as a student assistant for the Cedarville men’s basketball team.