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Girls Soccer: Allen’s PK beats the weather, Rovers in season-opening win for Falcons

Girls Soccer: Allen’s PK beats the weather, Rovers in season-opening win for Falcons


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Field’s Taryn Allen prepares to send a pass up the field during Friday’s first half against Rootstown.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

Field junior girls soccer standout Taryn Allen has played in a lot of games in her still young career.

On Friday night, though, the Falcons’ captain found herself in a new situation.

Standing 12 yards from the goal for the first penalty kick of her high-school career.

Allen picked her spot and buried a powerful shot in the middle-to-upper right corner of the goal.

It proved to be the only goal for the Falcons in a 1-0 rain-shortened victory over the visiting Rootstown Rovers in the season opener for both teams as part of the OHSAA’s Friday Night Futbol showcase.

Allen’s penalty kick came after a scoreless first half and at the 37:35 mark of the second half.

As she approached the ball on her shot, she was outwardly calm.

Her body language, however, just moments earlier when her coaches called out to her to take the kick told a different story.

Field defender Savannah Rahe controls possession of the ball, while looking for a teammate to pass to, on Friday against Rootstown.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

“You could see it in her eyes that she was a little surprised. Almost like to say, ‘You really want me to take it’,” said Field head coach Jason Schindler, whose primary penalty-kick player the past two seasons was Cassie Wilde. “We knew it pulled her out of her comfort zone, but we had confidence in her. She put the shot in a place that would be difficult for any goalkeeper to get to.”

Field was awarded the penalty kick after a handball by Rootstown in the box.

The sequence started when a cross attempt from left midfielder Delilah Rahe, near the deep corner, was blocked and the deflection pushed toward the top of the goal box. Ally Harlin raced in to win the free ball and played the ball back into the box that eventually pinballed off a series of feet and legs before popping up and clipping the arm of a Rootstown defender.

For the Rovers, it was an unfortunate break in what had been a solid 50 minutes to that point. The Rovers entered as the perceived underdogs, but hung with the Falcons for the entire first half.

“It was an unfortunate outcome after a promising start,” Rootstown head coach Jason Opritza said. “We came in as underdogs and surprised them with our movement and pressure. We didn’t capitalize on our early chances, but we were making them consistently and you could feel at times that we were a better team.

Rootstown’s Melanie Plecko advances the ball up the field during Friday’s season opener at Field.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

“The little sibling came out swinging tonight and despite an unfortunate PK, followed immediately by the weather, we showed that we can never be taken lightly,” Opritza added. “We are fighters with a chip on our shoulder and something to prove. I’m quite proud of our performance tonight. There are a lot of positive takeaways for this team.”

For the Falcons, the goal was created from a spirited start to the second half that was built from a sense of refocus from a first half of missed opportunities.

“I feel throughout the first half that it was our execution that was the issue,” Schindler said. “We saw some good ideas, but our passes continually were not weighted right. At halftime, we did not talk about any kind of strategic changes, we just needed to reset our mental focus on execution.

“I felt like we did that in the first eight minutes of the half,” Schindler said. “We were moving the ball and putting a lot of pressure on their back three.”

Regardless of the outcome, neither coach was ready to see the game called early by weather elements.

“I was disappointed, honestly,” Schindler said.

Field’s Mickey Herendeen prepares to send a pass to a teammate, while Rootstown’s Porter Smith defends.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

The teams waited 75 minutes in hopes that the clouds would clear just long enough to get the last 32 minutes. Both Schindler and Opritza had set 9:30 p.m. as the target for the game to restart. However, constant lightning sightings kept resetting the 30-minute weather countdown, with the last pushing the restart time to 9:37 p.m. and past the agreed upon 9:30 p.m. restart.

In the scoreless first half, the Falcons had three quality scoring opportunities that the Rovers turned away.

The first came on a corner kick at 31:27. As the ball was sent into the box, junior Delilah Rahe attempted to get her head on it, but it sailed over her and found the foot of junior Makayla Miller. Miller settled the ball and connected on a shot that crashed into the crossbar.

The next chance for the Falcons came at 29:17, when senior Savannah Rahe sent a pass out of the defense to her younger sister Delilah Rahe on the left side that Delilah turned into a long run and a hard, low shot that Rovers goalkeeper Natalie Opritza went low to save.

The third chance, at 3:31, was another time the Falcons found Delilah Rahe on a run. This time it was Allen that sent a left-footed pass over the Rovers’ left defender that Rahe ran onto, but her shot sailed over the goal.

Meanwhile, Rootstown’s Melanie Plecko, Porter Smith and Sophia Opritza used their speed to work together up top to create some scoring chances in the first half that came up empty either because of weak shots, failing to connect on passes or the defensive presence of Savannah Rahe and senior Olivia Kessler.

Field’s starting 11 for Friday’s season opener at home against Rootstown.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

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