The Metro Athletic Conference rivals played to a scoreless tie Thursday.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANFIELD -- There aren't too many sports whose games end up the way they started.
Soccer, however, is one of them.
That was the case for Canfield and Howland, which played to a scoreless tie in a Metro Athletic Conference girls opener for both schools Thursday night at Canfield High's stadium.
Although the scoreboard gave no indication of a winner and loser, endurance was the only measurable quantity.
"I'd say we were pretty evenly matched," Howland coach Gary Anderson said after the teams played 80 minutes. "They'd take control, then we'd take control. There was no quit in either team. We always seem to get at it pretty good."
Canfield took 22 shots on goal to 15 by Howland (1-2-1).
Senior Kelly Williams attempted 10 shots for Canfield (3-1-1) while junior Sarah Mangiarelli tried five for the visiting Tigers.
Howland, which finished runner-up to Poland for the MAC championship in 2001, has nine players in new positions.
"We're starting to come around," said Anderson, who is in his ninth year as Howland's coach.
One of Anderson's assistants is Denny Opritza, formerly Canfield's girls coach.
"It was kind of hard having their old coach compete against them," said Jon Ulicney, Canfield's first-year coach. "Both teams did a good job but I felt we controlled the game most of the first half."
While Williams and Mangiarelli tried to create some offense, the goalies were the standouts.
Noelle Zalac stopped 10 shots for Canfield while Darcy Quinlan had 13 for Howland.
Zalac has been part of other scoreless games, but this was one of the more exciting ones.
Her most athletic save came with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half when she jumped and reached high to bat away a sizzling shot.
"We knew Williams was going to be their big gun and we knew they had a great goalkeeper, so those were the two we had to go after," Anderson said. "We knew we weren't going to get any cheap goals on their keeper."
All five of Canfield's corner kicks were made by Grazia Sorice while both of Howland's corner kicks were taken by Alissa Thomas.
Sorice, a senior captain, gave Howland's defense fits with her footwork.
Her dribbling skills and speed were used alternately to draw in defenders, neutralize them or outrace them.
Sorice may not have had the game's hardest kick on goal, but it was the closest.
It came with about 16:42 remaining when her shot rebounded off the right post.
"It was less than an inch from the post," Sorice said.
"Their keeper is amazing," she said of Quinlan. "We knew this game would be close because we saw them earlier and knew they'd be tough. But we were ready. The only thing we didn't do was put it in the back of the net. Everything else was perfect."
Probably Canfield's hardest shot-on-goal was by Betsy Olsavsky, a sophomore whose blast was deflected over the crossbar by Quinlan with 12 minutes to go.
Howland sophomore Emily Phipps was solid during both halves in her spot as a defender on Quinlan's left side.
Freshman Nikki Sorice did the same for Canfield.