Nedoma, Rock Bridge streak past Helias with strong second half

The Bruins’ coach said his inexperienced team is maturing.
Friday, April 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:12 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rock Bridge’s Karissa Nedoma was racing down the right side of the field when a precise pass reached her feet.

Sophomore Erin Bucko placed the ball in front of Nedoma with just enough space for her to hit a shot into the back of the net to break a tie midway through the second half.

The goal helped lead Rock Bridge to a 4-1 win against the Helias Crusaders on Thursday at Cosmopolitan Park.

“I saw the goalie coming out, and she looked a little nervous, like she wasn’t really sure where she should be,” said Nedoma, the Bruins’ leading scorer. “I saw the goal open, and I just took the shot and luckily it went in.”

The first half had numerous scoring chances for both teams, but neither could convert. Rock Bridge (2-1) missed several breakaway shots. Helias (5-2) had three corner kick opportunities, but the Rock Bridge defense held strong to preserve a scoreless first half.

“We were getting pressured, and we were just kicking the ball out and kicking it long and with not much direction,” coach Marc VanDover said. “Even with that, we have enough speed to be successful at times, but we’re usually not going to come out on top playing like that.”

The second half proved to be a different story, though.

Helias got the scoring started quickly, with freshman Melissa Young hitting a long-distance shot that slipped under the crossbar in the seventh minute.

Rock Bridge’s Claire Schaeperkoetter answered less than a minute later. Her goal came after she collided with Helias goalkeeper Marcella Buel at the edge of the goalie box only to see the ball roll slowly across the goalline as Crusader defenders chased it.

Both offenses began an onslaught of shots, with Nedoma finally giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead. Freshman Lauren Kelly added two goals to solidify the win.

Senior Meghan Coburn was impressed at how the team kept itsfocus even with a big lead late in the game.

“As the lead grows, sometimes you tend to shut down and think, ‘We’re ahead, it’s going to be fine,’ but we kept up the intensity, kept fighting, and kept going hard to ensure that they didn’t get another goal on us,” she said.

VanDover was pleased with the spirit his team brought with them out onto the field, and said that contributed to the win more than anything. He also mentioned the growth his young team has shown this season.

“Every time we step out here, they’ll make improvements,” VanDover said. They’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and I realize that. But they’re exciting to watch from over here and to know that they’re only going to continue to get better.”

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