Toppers Hold Off Staunton

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Coming off an impressive 9-0 victory against Beardstown for their home opener, the Hillsboro girls soccer team continued to pour on goals in their narrow victory over the Staunton Bulldogs on Tuesday, April 27. 

The two teams scored a combined seven goals as the Lady Toppers held on to a 4-3 victory in what was an exciting match-up, with the traveling Bulldogs entering the contest at 2-0.

Staunton controlled things early on in the match-up, setting the tone with a physical, possession-based play led by freshman Breanna Feely. The Bulldogs did well to connect on a number of passes in the Hiltopper half, before receiving a foul call just outside the box. Feely would take the kick, but was blocked by the Hiltopper defensive wall. 

Staunton kept the pressure on however, and got another shot on goal, but Hillsboro goalkeeper Kylee Pastrovich made a nice save to keep Staunton scoreless. 

Where the Toppers lacked in having that dominant presence in the middle, they more than made up for with pace on the wings. Hillsboro sophomore forward Layne Rupert came into the game with smoke on her heels, netting five goals in the previous game against Beardstown. 

She made her presence known early by receiving a pass on the right wing just outside her own box, and taking it the full length of the sideline. Rupert was able to cut in past the defender and get a shot on goal that forced a diving save by the Staunton keeper.

This seemed to build some momentum for the Toppers who really began working the ball up the sidelines. With 12 minutes left in the first half, sophomore Sally Mattson received the ball near the midfield. 

Mattson passed a perfect through ball behind the Bulldog defense that found junior forward Abbigail Schreiber in the corner. Schreiber worked around the defense and placed the ball past the outstretched arms of the keeper to make things 1-0.

Hillsboro kept the offense going, as just moments later sophomore Isabella White threaded a pass through the defense to Rupert who put a shot on goal that was blocked by the keeper. 

The ball rebounded off the keeper, who was forced to leave her line, leaving a wide open goal for the Toppers, who could not quite get a clean look and missed wide of the net. The Toppers continued to play aggressive but were unable to score again before the end of the first half. 

The second half saw a barrage of offense from both sides, with Staunton getting things going first. 

After working the ball up the right sideline, Feely found the ball about 23 yards outside the box. After getting blocked by the defense earlier in the game, Feely adjusted and sent a high looping ball over the defense, past the stretched arms of the HHS keeper and into the back of the net to tie things at 1-1.

The Toppers did not take long to respond, as just moments later Rupert found herself on a breakaway after a defensive miscue. Rupert faked to the right, then shot to the left to retake the lead at 2-1, and give count for Rupert’s eighth goal in three games. 

Hillsboro then gave themselves some breathing room by tallying a third goal, this time coming from senior Kelsey Holtgrave. Holtgrave came crashing in to a perfectly crossed ball by her midfield partner, freshman Kinley Richardson, to calmly put the ball in the bottom right corner and give Hillsboro a 3-1 lead. 

The Bulldogs would then go back on attack, stringing together a number of passes to get the ball near the right side of the Toppers goal box. Staunton junior Lily Bruhn tried to cut past the defenders, and after a hard challenge by the defense, earned herself a penalty kick. Bruhn calmly stepped up and delivered a shot past the keeper to make things 3-2. 

The Toppers would then earn a penalty kick of their own as with 20 minutes left the Bulldogs were called for a handball in their goal box. 

Kelsey Holtgrave would step up for the Toppers and score on a ball to the bottom left of the net, marking her second of the day, giving her back-to-back two goal games and the Toppers a 4-2 lead.

The Bulldogs were not finished yet however, and with eight minutes left in the game Bruhn received a pass on the right sideline. She took on a Topper defender and was able to get past her down the sideline before cutting in and burying a shot past the keeper to make things 4-3 with her second goal of the contest.

The Toppers were able to slow things down after that, with Hillsboro senior Nikya Harston being a big reason why. Harston anchored the back line for Hillsboro and repeatedly knocked the ball away from the Bulldogs as they tried to find a late equalizer. The Topper defensive effort would prevail, and the Toppers held on to the 4-3 victory.

Now 2-1 on the season, Hillsboro will look to add to their win total on April 29, when they play Greenville on the Comets’ home turf.

April 27 at Hillsboro

Hillsboro 1 3 - 4

Staunton 0 3 - 3

Hillsboro Scoring: Kelsey Holtgrave 2, Layne Rupert 1, Abbigail Schreiber 1. Staunton Scoring: Lily Bruhn 2, Breanna Feely 1.

Record: Hillsboro (2-1), Staunton (2-1).

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