Penalty kick lifts Falcons in blustery season opener
By Jacob Heid
AMHERST – Many teams around the state have had to wait to play their first game of the spring season.
The Amherst girls’ soccer team got that chance on a sunny Apr. 6 in Amherst vs. Medford.
With the wind howling and the temperatures hovering in the high 30s to low 40s, goal-scoring was scarce.
Amherst came away with a 1-0 victory after a penalty kick by senior Jenna Pinter found the twine in the second half.
A consistent wind played a factor in the game, but the Falcons held the ball in Medford territory for most of the opening half.
Great defense by the Raiders kept Amherst from getting shots on the net.
The home Falcons got a handful of chances as the half went along, with junior Kaelynn Kazda attacking Medford’s keeper from the left wing.
Kazda had multiple open chances late in the half. The junior fired a few shots wide and had one blocked by the goalkeeper.
“I thought in the first half we did really well, possessed the ball and kept on [Medford’s] end most of the half,” Amherst coach Bill Spees said. “What we need to work on is getting quality shots.”
The Falcons came out of the 0-0 halftime with some fire.
Pinter got some space in the middle of the field and fired a shot that floated wide of the goal.
Medford countered that early attack with a lengthy possession deep in Amherst’s end but came away with no points.
The game entered the 49th minute, and an opportunity arose for the Falcons.
Sophomore Claire Lewallen danced through defenders before getting tripped up in the penalty box, leading to a penalty kick.
Pinter got the nod to attempt the penalty shot, and Amherst came away with a 1-0 lead with plenty of time left on the clock.
Players on the last line of defense made plays in pivotal moments to hold onto a 1-0 lead, including freshman Mia Rockefeller getting a key takeaway minutes after Amherst took the lead.
“Our young backline did very well the whole game in clearing up most balls that came back their way,” Spees explained.
Amherst’s next game will be at home on Tuesday, Apr. 11, at 5 p.m. vs. conference foe Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T.