Updated March 4, 2021 - 8:24 pm
Faith Lutheran girls soccer coach Bob Chinn thinks this year’s team is better than the one he had last season.
That’s high praise, considering last year’s Crusaders won a state championship with an unbeaten record. Time will tell whether that proclamation proves true, but Faith Lutheran got off to a strong start to the season Thursday.
Ari Gronauer scored off an assist from Camille Longabardi about four minutes into the second half to help lead the Crusaders to a 1-0 home win over Bishop Gorman.
“We just told them (at halftime), ‘You’re a good group of young ladies, and you’ve got this,’” Chinn said. “Play your game. Don’t play their game. Our game is more possession, quick movement, not just long ball. They settled down, and it’s a good group.”
The game featured the teams that had won the past three state championships. Gorman claimed the crown in 2017 and 2018.
It was a back-and-forth first half, with neither team mounting serious scoring threats. The few shots that were fired on goal were easily covered up by goalkeepers Jordan Brown of Faith Lutheran and Eden Elliot of Gorman.
The Crusaders immediately took control in the second half, and Brown spent most of that time as a spectator as the ball stayed in Gorman’s end.
“Missing three starters hurt because we really had to blow out the normal starters with extra minutes in the first half,” Gaels coach Doug Borgel said. “We hung with them that way, but we got tired. They possessed the ball a lot, to their credit, and we chased a lot. They were quicker to the ball and better with the ball, and they deserved to win.”
Faith Lutheran had opportunities to make it a two-goal game. On one, the Crusaders had two players in front of a wide-open net, but the shot sailed over the crossbar. On another, Elliot lost the handle on a save, and only a heads-up play from a Gorman defender kept the rebound shot from about 18 yards from going in.
Freshman Andrea Leyva controlled play in the midfield for Faith Lutheran and made several runs that put Gorman on the defensive.
“You can’t even put into words how much she helps in there,” Chinn said. “It’s a calming effect. In the second half, when she started taking the ball, we relaxed, and by the end we were controlling the game. It was our style and not just kickball.”
Borgel was pleased with his team’s effort and that he got a look at several players.
“We lost a ton of goals from seniors from last year, so it’s going to be interesting to see who steps up,” Borgel said. “To play these kinds of games is always great. These kids play against each other in club, and it’s the best high school games you get. For not playing with each other for long, I thought both teams looked pretty good. They were just a little better.”