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Poland girls fall 2-0 at Howland

HOWLAND — The Poland girls soccer team had a game plan to combat Howland’s sturdy defense.

But the Bulldogs struggled to execute that game plan and fell to the host Tigers 2-0 on Saturday night.

“We wanted to feed the outside, but we kept getting stuck in the middle,” said coach Joel Monaco, whose team fell to 2-3 with the non-league loss. “We just couldn’t execute that game plan, especially in the first half.

“We had a number of girls who I thought played well at times today … (Teegan Graff, Meredith Trevis, Mary Brant) and our goalkeeper (Deena Kassawat) made some nice plays and had a good game. We just didn’t put it together.”

The Bulldogs looked a bit hesitant in the first half, not taking shots three or four times when it appeared opportunities were present.

“We were trying to find our footing in the first half and seemed somewhat passive on offense,” Monaco said. “Howland is a really good team. They move the ball very well, and they’re excellent defenders with good goalkeeping. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, and then we didn’t follow the game plan.”

The Tigers, who improved to 2-3-1, got on the board with 25:13 left in the opening half when Kalliopi Gentis chipped the ball over the head of charging Poland goalkeeper Deena Kassawat.

“We got caught ball-watching on their first goal,” Monaco said. “They did a really good job of pulling us in, making us watch and then they made a nice run behind us and (Gentis) made a real nice shot.”

The bulk of the first half was a stalemate. Poland had three shots and Howland had two. Both teams had one shot on goal.

“I felt in the first half we were out of sorts,” Howland coach Greg Mitchell said. “Even though we were, we were up a goal. And goals have been kind of hard to come by for us of late. So that was a positive, and we regrouped and got back to playing how we normally do in the second half.”

Howland finished with 10 shots, six of which were on target, as Kassawat made four saves.

The Tigers got a pretty goal from Malina Andamasaris off a great assist from Rylie Daniluk six minutes into the second half.

“We did a great job in the second half possessing the ball, and then the second goal was terrific,” Mitchell said. “We had been struggling connecting in the final (one-)third of the field. That goal was an example of the things we’ve been working on. We’re trying to get there and it was nice to see that work pay off for us.

“We don’t truly have one or two dominant goal-scorers, so we have to do it by committee, by sharing the ball and finding that open player who is making a run into the box and then finishing it all off. That’s the culture we want to create now, so that when people come to see Howland play, we want them to see a nice brand of soccer. So tonight was a step in the right direction.”

The Bulldogs also played better in the second half. They finished with seven shots, four on goal, and Tigers’ keeper Gillian McMurray stopped all four.

“One thing we’ve been preaching is not to react, but to act,” Monaco said. “That premeditation of where the ball’s going to be, we want to be there. But today we were reacting instead of acting and being decisive. It’s like we were a step behind them everywhere on the field.”

The Bulldogs play at Hubbard on Monday and at home against Niles on Wednesday.

“We’re going to get together, get back to work, focus on executing our game plans and really work on our communication,” Monaco said. “Seeing the better teams and seeing how they communicate, that’s something we need to learn from. Howland had lots of communication. It’s tough because we have a younger team this year, but we’ve got to improve on that.”

bemerine@tribtoday.com

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