QUICKSBURG — Stonewall Jackson’s girls soccer season got off to a slow start on Friday night and they couldn’t recover.
The Generals gave up two goals in the first 10 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Wilson Memorial in Shenandoah District action. It was Stonewall Jackson’s season opener.
“Obviously, they scored both goals in the first 10 minutes,” Stonewall Jackson coach Ginny Dellinger said. “We regrouped. We reset the field. I changed some things around and we were able to really regain stabilization on the field. I felt like it was very much back and forth for much of the rest of the game. If we could just take back those two goals.”
The Generals were playing without their top returning goal scorer from last year, sophomore forward Kylene Franklin, due to illness. Dellinger said not having Franklin’s speed up top definitely impacted the squad offensively. Dellinger said the whole team has been battling illness recently and that may have also affected her squad.
Wilson Memorial’s Addie Gilligan scored a goal on an assist from Shelby Slayton six minutes into the game for a 1-0 advantage.
Just six minutes later, Wilson Memorial’s Amelie LeStrat sent a ball through Stonewall Jackson’s defense from about 45 yards out. The ball took a high bounce and went right over the head of Stonewall Jackson goalkeeper Lillian Proctor and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Stonewall Jackson sophomore Eli Dellinger said that first-game jitters may have also led to a slow start for her team.
“I know all the girls were saying before the game ‘I’m so nervous but I’m excited,” Eli Dellinger said. “And I definitely felt that way. ...Once you got into the game a little bit (nerves) automatically went away. We’ve all played like hundreds of soccer games. We’re used to it by now.”
Eli Dellinger said that the team probably needs to do a better job warming up before games as well.
Even though the game ended with a loss, Eli Dellinger said she was happy that the Generals kept the game close after the slow start.
“We definitely played better after those first 10, 15 minutes,” she said. “I think we got a feel for what the field was like, what the other team was like. I feel like we just got better once we started to get our heads in the game.”
Ginny Dellinger said that Wilson Memorial packed it in and moved some of their top players back to defense in the second half to make it tougher for the Generals to score.
The Generals (0-1) had several scoring opportunities but couldn’t finish off their shots.
One of the bright spots on offense was the play of freshman Madison Wright. She started the game on defense, but Ginny Dellinger moved her to forward during the game.
“She’s usually an outside back,” Ginny Dellinger said of Wright. “She had a fantastic game. She has such good speed. And I really think that she may spend a lot of time up front this year because she showed me some things tonight. Not only was she fast at breaking through but she made good decisions with the ball.”
Ginny Dellinger said she was pleased with the play of her defense, but she’s still trying to figure out what position in which to put each player to best help the team. She said she would like to be able to move some of her defensive players up to either midfield or forward.
“Our defense is fantastic but to do it I have to pull back some people that I really want in other places,” Ginny Dellinger said. “And it leaves us weak in the midfield and in the forward. While we can stop just about anything if we can run our strong defense, it really hurts us on the rest of the field.”
Last year, the Generals finished second in the Shenandoah District and with most of their players returning, they had high hopes for this year.
Eli Dellinger said that she still feels confident in what the team can do moving forward.
“I definitely think we can get a lot better, especially once everybody’s healthy,” she said. “And we just get to practice more, get to play together more, learn more about our team. I think we’ll do a lot better.”