BY DAN STICKRADT
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Facing a glaring sun and stiff winds is not an easy task for any soccer team, especially if that team is constantly on its own heels.
Auburn Hills Avondale had to do just that Thursday in the first half against Bloomfield Hills Andover.
The Yellowjackets eventually weathered the storm, found some offense and wound up defeating the host Barons, 2-0, in an OAA White Division girls soccer matchup.
The win helped Avondale (5-2, 5-1) maintain sole possession of first place in the league.
“We knew this was an important game,” admitted senior Jessica Creech. “We feel like we can win the league this year and coach told us that this was an important game.”
Avondale struggled in the first half facing the setting sun and playing into the wind. Andover outshot the Yellowjackets 4-0 over the first 40 minutes of play.
In the second half, Avondale finally got untracked, scoring both goals after halftime.
“We survived in the first half. The (elements) made it difficult but we held them off,” said first-year Avondale coach Doug Steinard, whose team defeated Andover for the second time in three weeks. “In the second half we started to play better soccer.”
Junior Madison Duncan finally broke the stalemate with 31:53 left in the second half. Alexa Alonso’s perfectly-slotted through ball was chased down by Duncan, who slipped the ball into the corner of the net for what proved to be the game-winner.
Duncan set up Creech with 14:40 to go on a similar tally to cap the scoring.
Andover (4-4-1, 2-2-1) did not allow a serious scoring threat in the first half. On the other side, the Barons had a goal called back on a collision in the penalty box with 14:50 left in the first half.
“That completely changed the (momentum) of the game,” sighed Andover coach Aaron Seaton. “Much like how their first goal really lifted them up. When we had our goal called back, it kind of deflated us a little bit. I thought we played well in the first half. In the second half, we were a little flat and we had a couple of mistakes on defense that allowed them to gain some scoring chances.”
The loss dropped Andover down the standings, but not out of the race.
“It was unfortunate because this game meant a lot in the standings,” added Seaton. “If we pull out this win, we were in the driver’s seat going forward.”
Andover had two grand scoring chances in the first half, including Remy Houttekier’s shot that was cleared off the goal line. The Barons simply could not convert, even with three first-half cornerkicks.
Avondale’s Abby Oliver recorded the shutout on five saves.
The Yellowjackets, who dropped down from the OAA-Red to the OAA-White this season, has four league games remaining and bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Farmington two days earlier. Avondale is trying to win their first league title in several years.
“It’s night and day from last year,” added Creech about Avondale, which suffered through a major rebuilding campaign last season. “Last year we struggled. This year we have a chance to win a league and maybe compete for a district title.”
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