Following a season that ended in a TSSAA Division II State Girls Soccer Championship and school records in goals scored and fewest goals allowed, expectations were high for the GPS Bruisers heading into 2019. As they opened their season on Monday night at Girls Preparatory School against cross-town foe Notre Dame, the Bruisers wasted no time in showing their fans that more good things are to come this fall. GPS scored their first goal of the season in the fourth minute of play and rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame also entered this year with a positive outlook after finishing last year with a winning record and a 4-1-1 mark in region play.
The Irish played a majority of tonight’s 80 minutes on defense, however, and relied on stellar goaltending from sophomore Gracen Brewster to keep the final margin within reach. Brewster ended the night with a double-digit total in saves including several made from point blank range.
The Bruisers got on the scoreboard first after Erin Marshall fed junior Ashley Grant from the left wing, and Grant powered the ball into the back of the net with 36:50 remaining in the opening period. The Irish had a chance to tie the game when junior Sarah Moore found herself behind the GPS back line for a breakaway in transition, but Bruiser goalie Allie Williams came up with a huge save in the ninth minute of play.
Both teams traded wide angle shots and somewhat inconsistent play in the midfield until GPS sophomore Gardner Rustand dropped a ball behind Brewster after an assist from Kennedy Ball with 16:25 left until halftime. Just two minutes later, however, Moore made up for her earlier missed opportunity with an unassisted tally to draw the Irish within one. The Bruisers appeared to take a 3-1 lead just before the halftime break, but the score was called off after a foul was called on a GPS player as the shot was made.
The second half was dominated by the Bruisers as the home squad scored two in the opening nine minutes of the second stanza. Sydney Morris scored the third goal for GPS after an assist from Kennedy Ball and then returned the favor as Ball notched her own strike less than three minutes later. Ball would collect her third assist of the night with 29:33 remaining in the contest on a goal by Grant. The final score of the night would be the second of the night from Moore who seemed, at times, to be a one person wrecking crew for the Irish offensive front.
The game was the season opener for both teams who should be strong players in their respective regions later this fall. The Bruisers (1-0) host Briarcrest Christian from Memphis on Thursday. The Fighting Irish host Summit High School on Friday night.
NOTRE DAME 1 1 - 2
GPS 2 3 - 5
GPS – Grant 2, Morris, Ball, Rustand
Notre Dame – Moore 2
GPS – Ball 3, Morris, Marshall
GPS (1-0), Notre Dame (0-1)