It was the kind of weather that would drive many parent-fans to the clubhouse for warm drinks. The rain, wind and temperatures in the low 30s may have slowed the game’s pace and limited finesse moves, but it exposed the grit and determination of the SG Hütschenhausen-Spesbach-Hauptstuhl 14-and-under girls soccer club.
HSH continued its winning ways this dreary night to open the spring season with a 1-0 win over Grenzland, and in the coming weeks, would prove its undefeated fall season was no fluke.
At Grenzland, a team with which HSH has swapped victories in recent years, defense ruled the day as Ally Murphy led the trio of Katelyn Hamilton, Mimi Rivera and goalie Gena Lenz in thwarting each attack. HSH also faced difficulty in putting together a sustained offense, but was helped by quick transitions by wily mid-fielders Sarah Hartman, McKenna Roden and Kristi Carrigan, whose 48th-minute goal ultimately proved the winner.
Lenz coolly deflected a barreling penalty kick in the game’s final minutes to prevent the equalizer.
Visiting Rehweiler couldn’t keep the ball from its defensive side as the HSH girls launched a barrage of through-balls and dangerous crosses.
Shannon Guffey fought through a one-on-one match up on the right wing and teed up Melissa Englert’s first-half blast from five yards out. The second half saw more HSH control of the field in what Coach Bernd Englert said was the teamwork they were looking for to preserve the girls’ second win in as many games.
Illness and other HSH player commitments gave fourth place Höheischweiler hope of avenging its fall loss to the league’s leader.
The visitors took advantage early with a 16th minute break-away goal, then survived repeated pelting from HSH forwards Guffey, Cassie Onufrak and Jordan Parker, and attacking midfielder Jessica Williams.
Hamilton and Sarah Howard held the back line while Murphy increased her incursions into the offensive side during a frantic, late-game rally.
The home crowd erupted when Hartman found the net through a crowd of defenders to scratch out a tie.
As late April temperatures rose, HSH’s defense showed it can dominate in any weather, and as it continued to shut out opponents, it gave the offense time and confidence to take scoring chances.
Williams, Guffey and Megan Albrecht each scored to top Zweibrücken, and the following week Williams crossed to Hartman for the lone goal to hold off a defensively strong Harsberg team.
The girls appear set to repeat as league champions, a first in three years for the club. With four games remaining, opponents are certain to step up big against the league leader and force the team to use the same determination it showed in that cold, rain-soaked season opener.