The first half of Littlestown’s 3-1 victory over visiting Biglerville in girls’ soccer action on Tuesday was far from easy viewing for head coach Bill Warburton.
The Thunderbolts (2-4-0 YAIAA-3) were out-possessed for the entirety of the half and conceded a number of chances to the front three of the Canners (1-5-0). But ultimately, the two teams went into halftime scoreless, and that’s when Warburton began to go to work.
“We made a few tactical changes as far as who was in what position,” he said of the adjustments. “We kept with the same formation basically but we just switched the strikers around and switched the midfielders around and that really set the tone.”
Those changes paid dividends almost immediately, thanks in large part from a moment of individual brilliance from senior Grace Thompson.
Thompson received a pass at the top of the 18-yard box with her back to goal. She quickly swept the ball onto her right foot, turning the defender in the process, and delivered a thunderous strike over the outstretched fingers of Canners goalkeeper Emily Woolson.
“It was still 0-0 and knew we had to shoot, we had to start getting shots on goal,” Thompson said of the strike. “So I just took it, ripped it to see where it would go and if it would get anywhere and it ended up in the net.”
After a sleepy first 40 minutes, the first 10 of the second half was played at a frenetic pace. Biglerville didn’t trail for long as sophomore Brylee Rodgers, who bossed the midfield for much of the contest, equalized with a low strike inside the box just two minutes after the Bolts’ goal.
The hosts responded almost immediately, however, through forward Keira Lee. Littlestown was able to dispossess the Canners in the midfield and spring a quick counter-attack that ended with Lee through on goal and slotting home from just a few yards out to retake the lead at 2-1 in the 49th minute.
“They didn’t give up. They kept battling back,” Warburton said of the response to giving up the tying goal. “They didn’t let that goal deter them and that’s always something you want to see from a young team.”
Biglerville once again pressed for an equalizer, with Katie Woolson narrowly missing a pair of opportunities in behind the back line of the Bolts.
It was the hosts, however, who found the fourth and final goal of the match through a somewhat unlikely scorer.
Freshman Liv Wheeler latched onto the end of a ball lobbed into the box and with Emily Woolson caught between coming out for the ball and staying back in her net, Wheeler rose high and headed home to extend the Littlestown lead.
“I think it’s going to be huge for her,” Warburton said of what the goal will do for Wheeler’s confidence. “They’re excited now after the win and I think it can be big to see the ball hit the back of the net.”
The Bolts were able to close out the game with strong defense, limiting the Canners’ chances and wrapping up an impressive turnaround from the first half.
“In that first half we were down, but we had to stay positive and get out there and work the ball feet to feet,” Thompson said of her team’s turnaround. “We came off after the first half and I told the girls we need to get out there and push, we still have time and the score is still 0-0.”
Littlestown now hopes to make it back-to-back victories on Thursday when it travels to Hanover, while Biglerville faces a stern test on Saturday when it welcomes Bermudian Springs.