- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In football, constant pressure on the quarterback can be as effective as getting sacks.
In the game known as football around the rest of the world, the same principle can also be on display when it comes to constant offensive pressure.
The Westlake girls soccer team employed that sort of attack Tuesday in its contest against the host McDonough Rams as the Wolverines dominated ball possession the longer the action wore on.
In fact, the second half saw Westlake almost exclusively control the ball on its offensive end of the field. Though none of Westlake’s nine shots on goal after intermission found the back of the net, its heavy heat was more than enough to protect the lone score of the game from the first half.
The Westlake offensive pressure, particularly in the second half, thus served as its best defense in a 1-0 blanking of McDonough, continuing the Wolverines promising season as they improved to 3-3 overall and 3-3 within the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Winless McDonough fell to 0-7, 0-7. Both teams were in action Thursday in games that finished too late for inclusion into today’s edition as McDonough hosted Lackey and Westlake welcomed in Northern.
“It’s always good to win, but we’ve really worked hard and been improving the past couple weeks,” said Westlake sophomore forward Jade Jamison, one of the team’s many speedy athletes.
Jamison was responsible for the only goal of the game midway through the first half on an assist from senior forward Breahna Maimone, who sent the ball into a crowded box that her teammate finished in the upper corner of the net.
Residing in the upper half of the league standings is foreign ground for Westlake, which has finished below .500 the last five years, including no wins in 2009 and just one victory in 2008. Westlake’s last .500 season occurred in 2006 and its most recent winning campaign was the year before that.
In the latter 1990s to early 2000s, Westlake was a perennial SMAC contender.
The last two years have seen an increase in overall wins for Westlake, which is already halfway to breaking last year’s victory total of five with more than half the schedule to go.
“People definitely underestimate us, but Westlake is definitely stepping up,” Jamison added. “I’m proud of my team for that. We’ve got a lot of new players, great players, added to our roster. On the field, at practice, we’ve just been working hard.”
Westlake first-year head coach Armand Delacruz, who made his name at the school as the frontman of the boys soccer team when the Wolverines girls used to be a yearly SMAC force, added, “We have a lot of good players on the team. They want to win. They want to be a better team than they have been in the past. I think they want to get some respect obviously in the county and in the SMAC — that’s what the kids talk about.”
He continued about his program’s turnaround, “The players just needed some direction. We got in a couple freshmen that are strong players. They needed to believe in themselves. We beat La Plata, and that was a big confident booster. We came up short against North Point, but they’re starting to believe in themselves.”
Westlake forward Damira Banks, senior midfielder Denzel Lewis, junior midfielder Bailey Delacruz and Jamison were all involved with keeping the offensive pressure via their speed and well-executed through-balls on the McDonough defense, particularly in the second half.
“We’re on defense every game,” McDonough first-year head coach Fred Gaudry said with a touch of humor. “The main thing I’m stressing to [my players], whether it’s 0-0, 1-0 or 10-0, they need to play the game. Because if you don’t play the game, you don’t learn. I’m passionate about the game.”
McDonough junior goalie Krystal Lewis fended away every Westlake attempt each time in the final 40 minutes when she racked up seven of her 11 saves. It was only Lewis’ third game protecting net after formerly playing in the field.
“She’s got the instincts, she’s played at the travel stage [of soccer],” the McDonough frontman praised of Lewis. “She’s potentially a college player if she decides she wants to play. She’s not afraid [to play goalie], and you can’t teach that.”
Despite its win column still being bare, McDonough has shown improvement throughout the course of the season, according to its coach.
Though the shots on goal were lopsided, Westlake was unable to run away with the game on the scoreboard and was forced into some adjustments at halftime with hopes of cushioning the lead.
“Tactically, we just made a couple changes in the middle [of the field],” Armand Delacruz added about how his team upped the pressure on McDonough coming out of halftime though it did not result in anymore scoring. “We put a little bit stronger players in the middle, and I just told them the game is for them to win.”
But the game could have easily been tied at the half, which might have changed Westlake’s approach in the second half.
Shortly after going up 1-0, Westlake junior goalie Ashley Hudson came through with her lone save of the night to thwart a McDonough breakaway, triggered when a Wolverines defender slipped to the ground.
Hudson aggressively attacked away from her goalie line to clear the 50-50 ball on the breakaway, keeping McDonough senior striker Alison Haley from the tying goal.
“When that happened a week ago, two weeks ago, we fold [and give up] three or four [goals] in the back of the net,” Gaudry said about missing out on a golden breakaway opportunity. “Today, we were like, ‘OK, we’ll get [the ball] in the goal.’ [My players] are learning to play with each other.”
Haley’s shot was McDonough’s only one for the game as it was shut out in offensive attempts during the second half.
“If they score, it’s a totally different game,” Armond Delacruz said. “Ashley came up with a great save. She really came through.”