Russells each net pair, unbeaten Lady Eagles of Fillmore bend, don’t break on defense to score massive 4-1 victory over Section VI superpower Allegany-Limestone
Photo gallery and story by Chris Brooks, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com
FILLMORE — Right before everyone’s eyes, the first half of the regular season has quickly come and gone in a flash.
The Lady Eagles of Fillmore are eight games in. They have continued to build a head full of steam since day one, garnering wins in each of them to remain untouched.
But on Friday, they may have received their most difficult challenge yet.
Section VI superpower Allegany-Limestone, winners of seven of their first eight, were in town. And they too, were looking to avoid the loss column by any means necessary.
When the two collided on the pitch, they went to war. Two goals were scored in the first six minutes of play to help set up shop, but from that point on, it was a midfield battle for possession until the Lady Eagles were able to create a little more wiggle room to navigate towards halftime with the advantage they wanted to have against the Lady Gators.
At one point during the team’s discussion at the break, three powerful words were spoken by one of the team’s leaders, Rachel Hatch.
The message? – “We are winning.”
Although it took another grueling battle with the Lady Gators across much of the second half, the Lady Eagles would deliver on that promise with a strong finish, as they broke the game wide open with a pair of clutch scores from the foot of Grace Russell in a rapid succession that branched Fillmore’s lead in insurmountable fashion, as they went on to score their ninth straight win with a 4-1 defeat of Allegany-Limestone to hand them their first loss this season.
“We have to feel good with a win like this over an Allegany-Limestone team that was undefeated in Class B over in Section VI. They are coached by one of the best guys and coaches that I know in Coach (Dale) MacArthur,” said Lady Eagles coach Jon Beardsley. “They have some outstanding players, and very few, if any, weak spots. With that, all the credit to these girls at Fillmore. For a group that has achieved plenty of success, this is the first year where I see a different, more confident look. We will enjoy tonight, and then start our second half of our regular season. We still have work to do, and I know the girls have expectations to continue working hard.”
Both teams were able to come across a score within the game’s first six minutes to set what was a rapid pace up and down the field. The Lady Eagles (9-0) were able to reach the board first with the signature Grace Russell/Hope Russell connection, as Grace delivered a picture-perfect cross to Hope for the finish, burying it to the far side corner just two minutes removed from the clock.
But it was a lead that was held for all of just four minutes, as the Lady Gators bounced right back and struck gold with a goal of their own from Abby Peck straight down Main Street, as she stutter stepped a couple of Lady Eagles defenders on the way in, and let a 20-yard shot sail straight in on goal where the ball hit the crossbar down and onto the back of Preslee Miller, straight into the net to tie the game at one for the foreseeable future ahead.
With the midfield war being waged, it was a matter of time before the next connection would come about. Fillmore kept cracking the ice until another breakthrough was provided with 10 minutes left to go, as a reverse pinwheel kick sent the ball straight back into the Allegany-Limestone box.
A shot that Allie Mills was able to track down and apply a shot on net, creating a hefty rebound in return for Hope Russell to finish off for a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Beardsley said to his girls that he was more than pleased with the effort across a very active first half against one of Section VI’s best.
“At halftime, I was telling them how proud I was of how they responded after Allegany-Limestone had a very controlling 15 minutes after we scored first, and that regardless of a win or loss, we were going to be better because of this,” he said. “When Rachel, our sweeper and vocal leader looked at me and the team and said “We are winning.”, that speaks to our growth mentally.”
The Lady Gators continued to keep Fillmore on their feet across the early stages of the second half, which tested the Lady Eagles on defense. They did a precarious amount of bending, but they would never break. As soon as the momentum began to shift completely in favor of the Section VI perennials, Fillmore would ensure that it remained on their side.
And for good.
With 11 minutes to go, Grace Russell did double the damage across back-to-back offensive rushes into the Allegany-Limestone zone. In the first, the ball took an enormous bounce inside the Lady Gators box. A bounce that Russell kept a sharp eye on to knock it straight out of the air and provide a point-blank volley to collect a humongous third goal to create even more cushioning down the stretch.
The game was put away for good on the very next offensive rush into the zone for the Lady Eagles, grabbing a corner kick — an element that became a rarity for much of the contest, and with it, Amelia Rose delivered an absolute strike from the corner to a mob centered inside the box. Russell was able to dig the ball free again and bury it home to score a 4-1 lead for the rest of the way, sealing up an incredible, hard-fought win to remain undefeated this season.
“Our defense with Preslee (Miller) in goal, Rachel at sweeper, Amelia and Ryleigh (Goodliff) at outside back and Kylee (Ellsworth) at stopper, we are so tough and give up so little to our opponents,” Beardsley said. “It just allows us to take more risks offensively. Then of course, we have Hope and Grace, who are just two of some of the best players. You add that to a phenomenal supporting cast, and we have a solid recipe for success.”
The Lady Eagles scored four goals off 11 shots against Allegany-Limestone, while allowing eight shots the other way to the Lady Gators on defense. In goal, Preslee Miller claimed victory honors in between the posts, scoring seven stops.
On Monday, Fillmore will look to become the County’s first team to 10 wins this season, as they step back onto their home pitch for a 7 p.m. contest with Andover/Whitesville under the lights.