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Archive for Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Happy, happy Abby

Lions’ Vestal scores twice in 3-0 soccer win over Firebirds

April 5, 2006

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To the untrained soccer eye, it looked like a case of a player in the right place at the right time.

To first-year Lawrence High girls coach Matt Anderson, it was the latest evidence players are embracing his plan.

Midfielder Abby Vestal scored twice on loose balls near the center of the box, the final salvos in a second-half barrage as LHS knocked off Free State, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State's field.

"I feel really good about it. The ladies really stepped up and did pretty much everything we asked them to do," Anderson said. "They're really starting to buy into our system, and I think it showed.

"They filled the lanes, and they stayed disciplined in their zones."

The biggest beneficiary was Vestal, a junior who last fall was one of two soccer players who traded off place-kicking duties for the varsity football team.

Lawrence High junior Abby Vestal, right of center, hugs freshman teammate Stef Stuever as senior Raya Bowden, left, and sophomore Madison Bertrand come in to celebrate. The Lions beat Free State, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State's field.

Lawrence High junior Abby Vestal, right of center, hugs freshman teammate Stef Stuever as senior Raya Bowden, left, and sophomore Madison Bertrand come in to celebrate. The Lions beat Free State, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State's field.

Back on the soccer pitch, she proved to be an efficient weapon against Free State. While teammates Megan Johnson, Raya Bowden and Becky Davis peppered Firebirds goalie Megan Hrenchir with multiple shots but came up empty, Vestal put home better than half her three attempts.

Already up 1-0 on a goal by freshman Stef Stuever less than three minutes into the second half, LHS (2-0 overall, 1-0 Sunflower League) doubled that margin with 22 minutes remaining when Vestal, unmarked in the center of the field, left-footed a high arcing shot over Hrenchir and into the back left corner of the net.


Free State sophomore Taylor Case (16) battles Lawrence High junior Erika Hierl for the ball. The Lions beat the Firebirds, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State's field.

Free State sophomore Taylor Case (16) battles Lawrence High junior Erika Hierl for the ball. The Lions beat the Firebirds, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State's field.

With 7:11 left, Vestal again found herself in prime position, surviving a scrum in the box and knocking in a wide-open shot.

"The defense finally broke down," Vestal said of the second-half onslaught. "We stayed strong and attacked."

It's something Anderson wants to see more of from his multisport star.

"Once she decided to go ahead and try to take over and help us take over the game, she's capable of that at this point," Anderson said. "She's a goal scorer, she just doesn't know it yet. So getting the two tonight will hopefully open the floodgates."

Lawrence High junior Abby Vestal gets off a shot for a goal as she collides with Free State High sophomore Taylor Case. LHS topped Free State, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State.

Lawrence High junior Abby Vestal gets off a shot for a goal as she collides with Free State High sophomore Taylor Case. LHS topped Free State, 3-0, Tuesday at Free State.

Meanwhile, Free State (1-2, 0-2) never could mount a serious offensive challenge - and Firebirds coach Jason Pendleton credited the Lions.

"They're by far a much better team than us, more athletic and far better technically," Pendleton said. "I've been at Free State seven years, and that's by far the best team I've seen at Lawrence, boys or girls.

"The only thing we could match them in was effort, and I felt we did that."

LHS will return to action Thursday against Olathe East at the Youth Sports Inc. fields, while Free State travels that same night to face Olathe Northwest at the College Boulevard Athletic Complex.

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