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Lakeview blanks Niles 3-0 in Northeast-8 tilt

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan. Niles junior Katie Heinselman (5) and Lakeview junior Olivia Easton (17) jostle for control of the ball in midfield during Monday night’s tilt in Cortland.

CORTLAND — With three teams jostling for position atop the always-competitive Northeast-8 Conference, Lakeview earned a pivotal edge Monday night.

Coming in, Niles sat in second in the conference standings, with the Bulldogs a game behind in third. Now, after Lakeview’s 3-0 win Monday over the Red Dragons, the Bulldogs jumped ahead of Niles, as both teams look to chase conference-leader Poland over the final couple weeks of the regular season.

“Both Poland and Niles have always been tough competition,” said Lakeview head coach Marissa Brown. “I think this midseason victory over Niles gives us a little bit of confidence and some momentum going forward before we see Poland again.”

After the two teams played to a 1-1 draw back on Aug. 29, Niles emphasized minimizing mistakes since a defensive error led to Lakeview’s goal in the first meeting.

“We came in with a gameplan to try to control tempo and work the ball and counterattack, but we just met a better team and they beat us,” said Niles head coach Scott Macmillan.

In turn, Brown said Lakeview changed its formational shape for this matchup, electing to put more numbers in attack.

Both teams spent the first 10-15 minutes of the contest feeling each out, with Lakeview getting the better of the early chances. One came on a breakaway up the middle of the field off a ground through ball pass that led to a collision at the edge of the 18-yard box between the Bulldogs forward, Niles defender and Niles goalkeeper. The collision resulted in a yellow card for the Niles defender.

After that, Lakeview asserted control of possession and finally broke through in the 29th minute with a strike from inside the box by freshman MaKenna Doran that was assisted by sophomore Lorelai Lowe.

“We tried to make sure we gave one of our centerbacks, who has some pace, an opportunity to get out and play on the outside, which really helped result in the first goal,” Brown said. “Then it was just a balance of shifting her back to make sure we could lock it in towards the end of the game.”

After conceding the goal, there was a renewed sense of urgency amongst the Red Dragons and Niles started to see more possession and push forward more, generating a couple more chances before halftime, but to no avail.

“We changed our formation and tried to put more pressure up top, but it didn’t work,” Macmillan said. “They shut us down. They’re a good team — they were the better side tonight.”

Macmillan added that Niles started out in a 3-2-4-1, but switched to a 3-1-4-2 to chase an equalizer.

“We abandoned one of our central defenders and put another striker up top and tried to get more pressure, but it didn’t work,” Macmillan said.

Over the final 10-15 minutes of the second half, Lakeview started to retain possession more and with Niles pressing forward, the Bulldogs were able to add two more goals on the counterattack to put the game away.

After a dispossession, senior Alexis Busefink sprinted down the left wing and cut inside. She struck the ball across the face of the goal and it ricocheted off a Niles defender and past the goalkeeper Gianna Wagner for an own goal inside the final 10 minutes.

The last goal came off a breakaway strike from Lowe in the 78th minute.

“We took advantage of transitioning and countering — it did get a little kickball on both sides, ours included,” Brown said. “We made a substitution, (sophomore) Micala Hipple, she helped in the center, played a great ball (to Lowe) and we were able to have a nice transition for the shot.”

nmadhavan@tribtoday.com

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