HIGH-SCHOOL

Orion-Sherrard soccer overwhelms Peoria Christian

Kayci Woodley
Kayla Fowler of Orion-Sherrard scores off a header during the team’s 7-1 victory over Peoria Central on Monday, May 9, at Charger Field.

The wind whipped across the field from the southeast as the Orion-Sherrard varsity girls’ soccer team faced off against Peoria Central on Monday, May 9.

Before taking the field, the Chargers cheered “first to” and were the first to many of the 50-50 balls as they cruised past the Lions 7-1 in Sherrard.

With the win, Orion-Sherrard notched its 14th victory of the season, extending the record for girls’ soccer which they had set during an overnight trip to Rockford on Saturday, May 7.

“I think winning 50-50 balls made the difference in the game,” said Orion-Sherrard head coach Rick Cline. “I think we won 90 percent of the 50-50 balls, and usually soccer math works out that if you’re winning the majority of those, you should win.”

From the get-go, Orion-Sherrard had control of the game as Peoria Central failed to get the ball into the Chargers’ 18-yard box the entire first half, and most of the second.

In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Chargers had a collection of shots and corner kick attempts.

It wasn’t until the 27:50 mark, however, that Orion-Sherrard was able to put one in the back of the net. Senior Kayla Fowler dished a pass off to fellow senior Brittany Scott, who then took a shot just inside the 18-yard line for the Chargers’ first goal, jumping to a 1-0 lead.

Playing with the wind the entire first half, the Chargers continued to control the game with a number of shots on goal, but few reached the back of the net until a second O-S goal was made by senior Sabrina Brooks with 8:56 left in the first half. From there, Orion-Sherrard continued to finish its shots.

“We’ve had a lot of that this season, where we’re getting good opportunities; we’re working the ball well, creating shots and just coming up wide or high,” Cline said. “But it’s nice to see that they keep their attitude where we want it and stay hungry and patient and ultimately get rewarded.”

After Brooks’ goal put the Chargers up 2-0, sophomore Katie Garrity scored an unassisted goal just outside the 18-yard line at the 4:54 mark. Garrity stepped up from the stopper position on defense to take a shot on goal that rocketed past the undersized Lions’ goalkeeper.

“I think Katie (Garrity) is the support of our midfield,” Fowler said. “She does an amazing job, and she gets everything and isn’t afraid to show leadership even though she’s only a sophomore. You can always count on her to yell for a drop or let you know what you have open and it’s just really great how well she’s doing just as a sophomore, so I think she’ll be great in the future.”

With the wind as blustery as it was, the Chargers chose to take short corners instead of the traditional corner kicks against the Lions. Less than one minute after Garrity found the back of the net, Brooks scooped up a cross to Fowler, who finished with an elevated header to bring the Charger lead to 4-0.

“Coach always reminds me I’m one of the tallest players on the field and need to go up for it,” Fowler said. “So when I saw Sabrina crossing it I knew what to do.”

For Fowler, the goal was more than her twelfth of the season. As a freshman, a similar cross came to Fowler right in front of the goal, but she missed the header opportunity. Fowler remembers being scolded by Cline for missing that goal, so she was pleased to finally put in one off her dome.

With just 34 seconds left in the first half, Fowler launched a throw-in into the penalty box area, where senior Ali Seys tapped the ball into the goal to finish with a 5-0 lead entering halftime.

One of the additions to the Charger offense this season is Fowler’s ability to throw the ball exceptionally far. Fowler is able to fling it further than most flip-throwers, and farther than some players can kick the ball.

“It’s a play that we’ve developed for a throw-in situation in the final third and it’s really helped offensively a lot,” Cline said. “Having some organization in the box is helpful and it’s a real special treat, us having someone with that athleticism to be able to make that incredibly long throw into the danger area every time.”

Launching the ball like a rocket from an overhead throwing position comes easily to Fowler, and it’s something many opponents don’t expect. But after the first time Fowler subbed in and threw the ball her sophomore year, her Charger teammates learned what to expect.

Less than one minute into the second half, Fowler found the net again after an assist from Seys and a sequence of passes from her teammates. Fowler’s second goal brought the Charger lead to 6-0 with 39 minutes left in the game.

Roughly nine minutes later, Peoria Central scored for the first time after a questionable call in the box allowed the Lions to take a direct kick just 12 yards from the goal. Peoria Central’s Carlita Tucker knocked the ball into the goal at the 30:59 mark, which brought the score to 6-1.

Freshman goalkeeper Baillie McCunn capped off the scoring for the Chargers with a bullet into the upper 90 of the goal with just 7:45 to play in the game.

“It’s nice to see all of our players can play almost anywhere and we can still be a successful team,” Fowler said. “We managed to not let them score much, and our defensive players were up there scoring in the second half.”