O'Connell 2, Good Counsel 0
Midway through the first half of top-ranked O'Connell's girls' soccer showdown with No. 2 Good Counsel yesterday, the frustration was mounting for the Knights. They were having trouble finding an offensive rhythm and the shots they managed to take went everywhere -- wide, high or off the crossbar -- but in the net.
But O'Connell stayed patient. Fifteen minutes into the second half, midfielder Kika Toulouse rocketed a right-footed shot into the back of the net to give O'Connell the lead. Midfielder Mick Imgram added a goal seven minutes later and the Knights emerged with a 2-0 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference win over the Falcons in Arlington.
"I give [Good Counsel] credit," O'Connell Coach Alberto Starace said. "They really pressured us and they threw us off our rhythm. We started panicking a little bit. We needed more pressure up front."
One of the players who brought that added pressure was Toulouse, who entered the game as a substitute midway through the first half and helped the Knights regain their form.
That form, which has earned O'Connell (12-0, 8-0) the No. 2 ranking in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, was exhibited in a beautiful passing sequence that resulted in Toulouse's goal.
Forward Liz Carroll collected a pass deep on the left side and beat two defenders by sliding the ball back to Imgram. Imgram went toward the end line, then quickly cut the ball back toward the middle and found midfielder Kerry Philbin. Philbin sent a one-touch pass to the wide-open Toulouse, who made no mistake with her 10-yard shot.
"In the first half we were getting rid of it too quick," Toulouse said. "We were just trying to slow the pace of the game down and play more of our soccer."
Good Counsel (9-2, 6-1) was unable to get the ball to play-making forward Vicki Anagnostopoulos in the first half and had trouble getting anything started. The Falcons came out in the second half with more determination, but they were quickly put back on their heels by O'Connell's offensive pressure.
"We played with them for a good while," Falcons Coach Jim Bruno said. "We knew we couldn't make mistakes, and the mistakes led to goals."