The Highlanders found their form in its third game of the season with a convincing 3-0 victory over Head Royce at Witter Field on December 5.
Piedmont went on attack early, but the Jayhawks’ goalkeeper and the goal posts thwarted multiple attempts, keeping the Highlanders off the scoreboard until the closing minutes of the first half.
Ceci Brien created several early chances, including a sharp low shot to the right corner that ricocheted off the post, and a long range rocket that seemed headed for the upper left corner of the goal until deflected by the outstretched arm of the diving goalkeeper. Halfway through the half, as Fiona Hunter accelerated with the ball through the midfield, she spotted her lightning fast teammate Ashley Nelson on her left, and slotted the ball to the left far up field, seemingly to no one, as the defender chased it down. Nelson blew past the defender, controlled the ball and fired a shot that careened off the crossbar and was cleared by Head Royce.
Finally, with three minutes left in the half, Nelson served up a beautiful corner kick, and Brien drilled a header into the back of the net, sending the Highlanders into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Piedmont continued its attacking play into the second half, with the front line earning several corner kicks. Corner kick opportunities are an effective part of Piedmont’s arsenal in 2019-20, having resulted in the first goal and generating multiple scoring chances with nice services into the box and aggressive shots by Brien and Hunter.
But the second half proved to be the coming out party for freshman Emily Fitzgerald, whose high pressure and composure in front of the Head Royce goal earned her the first two scores of her young varsity career.
The first goal came 11 minutes into the second half, as Fitzgerald stole the ball from the Jayhawks’ back line as they tried to bring the ball up the field. Finding herself one-on-one with the charging goalkeeper, Fitzgerald calmly slotted the ball just inside the right post to put Piedmont up 2-0. Six minutes later, Brien controlled the ball in the corner and drove along the goal line, delivering a lovely pass back away from the goal toward the on-rushing Fitzgerald, who cleanly struck the ball into the back of the net.
The Highlanders defense kept the ball out of their own end throughout the second half, as senior Lucy Barrett and sophomore Tucker Donohue were effective in intercepting Head Royce’s attempts to send the ball up field. The Jayhawks had only one scoring chance, which came in the closing minutes of the game. Freshman keeper Morgan Hunt dove to block a line drive shot from the left side of the box, and the rebound was decisively cleared by Hunter.
The Highlanders have two more games next week, facing Heritage High away on December 10, and Moreau Catholic on December 12 at 5:30 pm at Witter Field.
Photos by Julie Reichle