BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – The Bay Port girls’ soccer team has shown it has plenty of offense this season, but the Pirates got defensive in posting their fourth shutout in a row April 27 against Highland Park, Illinois.
No. 3 ranked Bay Port beat the Giants by a 5-0 margin at Bay Port High School on another cold, blustery night for soccer.
During its impressive run of shutouts, the Pirates have outscored their opponents 23-0 in improving to 6-0. Bay Port has allowed just two goals all season.
“Our defense has been phenomenal,” said head coach Brooke Mraz. “We have some very skilled players on the offensive end – we knew that – but our defense is creating a lot of scoring chances for them. I think we put together two very complete halves of soccer against a very good team. We made one step forward in terms of progress and the girls played their hearts out. Collectively as a unit they stayed calm and composed. Our defense cleared the ball well and kept Highland’s shots to the outside.”
Alaina Abel had an assist from her back row position and goalie Gabby Noack made five saves to preserve the shutout. The Giants had plenty of pressure early, as was indicated by their eight corner-kick attempts on the evening.
Bay Port’s Erika Hess kept her amazing streak of goals alive as she had another hat trick – her third of the season. She now has 15 goals on the year.
The senior Hess scored her first goal off an assist from Anna Gulan in the 39th minute to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead, before defenseman Greta Urban tallied one of her own in the 44th minute. Urban’s goal came via a corner kick from McKenzie Johnson.
Hess made it 3-0 (54th minute) and then Johnson scored off a corner kick when her attempt went directly into the net untouched past the Highland goalie five minutes later.
“That’s pretty rare, especially at the varsity level,” Mraz said about Johnson’s corner-kick goal. “McKenzie is a right-footed in-swinger, so her ball curves to the left after it’s kicked – it’s definitely an art. There was chaos in front of the net.”
Hess completed the hat trick 52 seconds after the Johnson goal to close the scoring. Emma Nagel assisted on the play.
“Erika would be the first to tell you that from the backline forward, they were servicing her some beautiful passes – they really, truly were. Her speed helps a lot, too.”
Bay Port outshot the Giants by a 14-7 margin.