STRONGSVILLE — Facing its second consecutive stiff test in the Greater Cleveland Conference, the Brunswick girls soccer team started with a strong defensive effort Wednesday night.
But Strongsville blanked the Blue Devils, who had no answer for forward Shelby Sallee who scored both goals in a 2-0 victory.
“We started off strong enough, but faded out,” Brunswick coach Scott Ward said. “Strongsville’s a very good team and we didn’t match how good they were all the way through the game. We came in a little hesitant, some of the girls. When you are hesitant against good teams, they are going to be successful against you.”
The Blue Devils (4-2-1, 1-2), whose GCC title hopes likely ended with the loss, were able to keep defending league champion Strongsville off the scoreboard for the majority of the first half. They even had a couple opportunities to take the lead, but strong work by junior goalkeeper Reanna Laurell kept the game 0-0.
With 25 minutes left in the first half, Brunswick midfielder Caylee Jozefov gathered the ball and fired a shot at the left post, but Laurell dove to her right and made the stop. Less than one minute later, sophomore Alexa Mackey ran through the middle of the defense looking for a pass, but the midfielder was called for being offsides on what would have been a one-on-one confrontation with Laurell.
Sallee’s first opportunity came with just over 12 minutes left in the first half. Defender Madi Snyder set up a corner kick for the Mustangs (8-0-2, 3-0) and kicked it to the sophomore for a header. Sallee’s shot got knocked out into the field, where Snyder collected and pushed it ahead to Sallee, who one-touched the ball in for a goal.
“Coming into this game we were all pumped up and motivated to win this game, especially since it’s against a rival,” Sallee said.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Brunswick nearly tied the game when Jozefov took a free kick from midfield and aimed at the top left corner of the goal. Laurell flew in front of the ball and tipped it just enough to clear it.
“I was real happy with how we played because Brunswick deserves to be a top 10 team in the state,” Strongsville coach Todd Church said. “And to shut them out is really good for us, because they are a very good team and we respect them a lot.”
Defensively, senior Mariah Kimble had a strong game for the Blue Devils. Kimble found herself as the last line of defense multiple times and made three goal-saving plays to turn away Strongsville.
“We have to keep our heads up,” Kimble said. “Playoffs are what are going to matter at the end. We have to fix our mistakes and move on from this game to become a better team.”
With 25 minutes left, Sallee added an insurance goal after forward Brie Mackie advanced the ball in close for her to bury into the back of the net.
Strongsville 2, Brunswick 0
BRUNSWICK 0 0 — 0
STRONGSVILLE 1 1 — 2
S — Shelby Sallee (Madi Snyder), 12:08.
S — Sallee (Brie Mackie), 25:24.
Shots on goal — Brunswick 5, Strongsville 10. Corner kicks — Brunswick 2, Strongsville 7. Saves — Sammy Grabowski (B) 7, Reanna Laurell (S) 5. Records — Brunswick (4-2-1, 1-2), Strongsville (8-0-2, 3-0).