Strong defense led the Lincoln Railsplitters to a 3-1 victory over the undersized Ypsilanti Phoenix to close out the season on Lincoln’s Senior Night last Thursday.
The first sixty-four minutes saw shutout play by both teams. Both Lincoln and Ypsilanti had many chances, but were turned away by strong defense and goalkeeping.
“This game was great defensively,” Ypsilanti coach Ed Huebner said. “Both teams played well.”
Liz Herring had the first two chances for Ypsilanti. Her first shot, on a breakaway twelve minutes into the first half, sailed over the net. Her second was too strong, again sailing over the net.
With fifteen minutes left in the first half, Lincoln had their best chance to break the stalemate. A one-timer by Lincoln senior Samantha Pace was turned away by Phoenix goalie Kiah Lowe. A few minutes later, Pace had another golden opportunity spoiled by Lowe.
The second half got off to a fast start. Three minutes in, Ypsilanti was awarded a free kick. The Phoenix’s Herring took the shot but sent it flying over the net again. Nine minutes later, Phoenix defender Rachel Zuellig took Ypsilanti’s second free kick, but it was blocked by Lincoln goalie Jenny Fracassa.
With sixteen minutes left in the game, Pace was able to send a long floater over Lowe’s head to break the 0-0 tie.
Ypsilanti responded ten minutes later when Zuellig hammered her penalty kick past Fracassa into the top-left corner.
Amid the tension of the renewed stalemate, Lincoln forward Brittany Ripple was given a yellow card for her rough play. Seconds later, the referee changed it to a red card, potentially leaving Lincoln one player short. However, since Ripple was on her way off the field, the referee allowed Lincoln to remain at full strength.
A couple minutes later, the Railsplitters caught a lucky break when a shot from Erika Graessley escaped the clutches of Lowe and spun into the net for Lincoln’s second goal.
“Once they scored the first goal,” said Lincoln coach Terri Allen, “the momentum went their way. It was a game of momentum. Then our second goal brought it back to us and we held on.”
Shortly after the second goal, Laura Samuelson fired a free kick past Lowe to put the game out of reach.
“That second goal, she just sort of missed,” Huebner said. “This game was a great battle for us. I’m very proud of these girls. They were really looking forward to this game and they played extremely well.”