TJCA opens soccer season with 1-0 win over CSD
Leah Lineberry’s chip-shot goal in the 29th minute and eight saves from goalie Caroline Longerbeam was enough to lift the Lady Gryphons past Community School of Davidson 1-0 to open the soccer season Monday night.
“They are a very talented side,” said coach Brian Espinoza of the Lady Spartans. “I’m glad we got such a good challenge early because it let’s us know what we need to work on. We showed that we are a little out of shape tonight, but Caroline came up big for us. She made se made several game winning saves.”
Thomas Jefferson (1-0) controlled the pitch in the early going earning two corner kicks in the opening three minutes. Both of the resulting shots were high leaving the game scoreless.
Anna Dedmon creased the defense down the far side. Her shot attempt clanged off the near post and was gathered in by the keeper. From that point, the match turned as TJCA had trouble marking Julia Grainda.
The freshman forward continually shook defenders and put pressure on Longerbeam. Longerbeam was up to the challenge, making diving stops on successive attempts.
The defense continued their strong defensive play later in the half when Victoria Bennett and Eleora Albala combined to stop another Grainda attempt. Longerbeam them made a fingertip save off the ricochet to keep the match scoreless.
TJCA finally found its offense late in the half. In the 29th minute, Longerbeam booted the ball to midfield off a goal kick where it was gathered in by Rachael Tevis. Tevis then connected with Leah Lineberry just outside the box who chipped the ball over the head of the goalie that had come off her line.
The ball had just enough momentum to roll across the line and into the back of the net to give TJCA a 1-0 lead which they carried in to the locker room.
Armed with that 1-0 lead, Espinoza moved Dedmon from forward to defender in the second half.
That strategy paid immediate dividends as the Lady Spartans nearly scored in the 41st minute. Grainda had a clean run at the goal, but Dedmon closed the gap and knocked the ball away. The Lady Gryphon defense cleared the ensuing corner kick as the home team continued to cling to the 1-0 lead.
The rest of the match followed a similar pattern as Grainda continually got by TJCA’s first line of defense only to be thwarted by Dedmon, Bennett, or Albala.
Longerbeam also continued her wok in goal, collecting four more saves, the last of which came in the 77th minute when she punched a shot over the crossbar to preserve the 1-0 shutout.
TJCA returns to the pitch Friday as they host the WCAA Trailblazers. Match time is set for 6 p.m.