Such was the lesson learned by the Rootstown Rovers, as goalkeeper Diana Ball withstood a multitude of shots but finally gave way as visiting Streetsboro bested Rootstown 2-1 in a Portage County League girls soccer matchup.
The Rockets (3-8-1, 2-5-1 PCL) got off to a fast start as they quickly moved into Rover territory and camped there for the majority of the first half. It took Rootstown eight minutes to get its first chance at the Rocket goal, but Streetsboro was quick to turn the pressure back on the Rovers (0-12, 0-8 PCL).
Freshman Kayla Nola and junior Shannon Lynch led the Rocket attack, taking shot after shot at the Rootstown goal, but to no avail. Ball was on top of her game as she turned back the Rocket pressure time and again. The Rockets placed in incredible 27 shots on goal for the game, but managed just a scoreless tie at the half.
"I think that is more shots than we have had all season," said Streetsboro coach Steve Gauer. "Offense has not been our strong suit. It feels good to go out and play 60 minutes of offense instead of 60 minutes of defense."
Sooner or later the Rockets were bound to break through the Rover defense, and they finally did in the second half. Heather Bora was awarded a free kick from about 20 yards out after a whistle on Rootstown. Bora sent a shot at Ball, who made a diving save but tumbled across the goal line as she landed.
A mere three minutes later, Bora again connected. This time, the junior got a breakaway and worked past two Rover defenders before sending a laser beam into the bottom right corner of the net to put the Rockets up 2-0.
"She is fantastic," said Gauer. "She just always seems to come through. If we can put the ball on her foot, she can put it away."
The Rovers were not ready to quit. Rootstown kept fighting back against the Streetsboro pressure and it paid dividends.
Senior Janine Miller broke away down the sideline in the final seconds of the game but was fronted quickly by sweeper Danielle Hostetler. The ball came loose and went off the hands of Rocket keeper Rhianon Nola, and Miller knocked it in for the goal.
"It was huge," said Rootstown coach Stephanie Miller. "It was a huge pick-me-up that we needed."
For Rootstown, Ball was impressive despite the loss. The senior recorded 13 saves for the game while withstanding the constant pressure of the Streetsboro attack.
"Diana is a very strong, aggressive player," said Miller. "She is very determined and she also has experience, which helps."
For the Rockets, the win was just what the doctor ordered. Facing some problems of late, the Rockets' approach to the game was different than games past.
"We had an incident last week and we kind of lost our focus, myself included," said Gauer. "I told them that win or lose, I want to walk away from this game saying we had fun playing. We didn't go out and play fantastic soccer, but we got the win and we did have fun."
Streetsboro 2, Rootstown 1
First Half _ None.
Second Half _ 1. (S) Heather Bora, 7:16; 2. (S) Bora, 10:43; 3. (R) Miller, 39:25.
Shots on Goal _ Streetsboro, 27-9.
Corner Kicks _ Rootstown, 2-1.
Goalkeepers/Saves _ (S) Rhianon Nola/2; (R) Diana Ball/13.