The GPS Bruisers took care of business Tuesday night in their last regular season game of the year with a 2-0 win over Knoxville Catholic.
GPS has had a solid season up to this point, with 10 wins and only 2 losses. The issue is that both losses came against district rivals, so this game was one of the last chances the Bruisers had to get a much-needed district win.
Their opponent, the Fighting Irish of Knoxville Catholic, came in at last in the district so the opportunity was in front of GPS.
The game started slowly. GPS sat in a low block, content with keeping the game in its half of the field. Controlling possession, the Bruisers would play out of the back—splitting their center backs wide and using their goalie as a pivot to switch play.
The goal was to draw Knox Catholic in and then play long to the front three with space to run into. It worked too, since the Fighting Irish ran a high press trying to trap GPS back deep and force an error. This led to a couple of tense moments for the GPS backline but overall, never really proved effective.
The Bruisers played through the press well enough, but their final pass often let them down.
The breakthrough came in the 20th minute. GPS played a beautiful, lobbed pass to its winger that effectively took the Knox Catholic backline out of the equation. The winger cut it back right in the path of Cullie Capeechi, who was steaking down the left wing to bury the tap in at the back post.
From there on, the Bruisers controlled the game. Confident in possession, they kept the fighting Irish—who seemed to have the air knocked out of them after the goal—chasing the game.
In the second half, more of the same patterns of play persisted.
Knoxville would press high, and GPS would play through it and try to switch play and hit on the counter. As the clock ticked on, GPS began to shift to a more conservative approach, looking to connect short simple passes rather than the ambitious long hauls they relied on before.
The Bruisers sealed the win in 63rd minute off a 25-yard screamer from center attacking mid Kallie West.
At the end of a long spell of possession, West found herself in the right channel with acres of space and nobody closing her down—so naturally she curled a ball over the outreached gloves of the Knoxville #1 and into the top drawer to make it 2-0. Was it meant to be a pass or just a brilliant effort from long range—only West knows—but it was quite the goal either way and exactly what the Blue Bruisers needed.
GPS saw out the remaining 20 minutes in the usual fashion of control through the back. Knoxville Catholic pushed to try to trip GPS up and get back into the game—but stout defense kept the door shut when needed.
GPS end the regular season with a record of 11-2-1 and third in their district. The Bruisers will host CCS in a much anticipated rematch Saturday for the first round of the playoffs.
GPS 1 1 – 2
Knoxville Catholic 0 0 – 0
GPS- Cullie Capeechi, Kallie West
Baylor 3, Father Ryan 0: Baylor defeated the Irish in a non-region match. At the 12th minute, Elizabeth Silva scored off a Lilly Catalanatto corner kick. Then, at the 32nd minute, Elizabeth Silva scored again off a Skylar Schwartz pass
It was 2-0 at halftime and at the 41st minute, Jada Cooper scored off a Avery Listen pass.
According to Baylor coach Curtis Blair, "I thought we struggled the first 10 minutes of this match. We did not match their intensity or speed of play. But once we settled in, we played well after that. Any time you can go on the road and get a shut-out is great to see from our team."
Baylor tandouts were Sara Hill (GK), Campbell Hoss (GK), Emily Betterton, Corinne Hessler, Zoe Misenhimer, Emery Carico, Lily Simpson, Reese Rowlett.
Baylor's record now stands at 12-0-1,
Red Bank 3, CSLA 0: Lady Lion goals were by Brianna Berry with 2 and Lulu Centurion.