Pitch battles: Gardner keys 2nd-half Warren win over Marietta

DEVOLA – Raelyn Gardner was held in check for the most part by Marietta High’s defense in the first half.

But after the break, the Warren senior standout got a couple of nice passes from Raeli Barnes and scored two goals as the Lady Warriors rallied to defeat the Lady Tigers, 3-1, in prep soccer action at the Devola Soccer Complex Tuesday night.

“This was a big win,” said Gardner, who had a hat trick earlier in the season in a 5-2 triumph over Marietta. “Last year was disappointing, because we tied them.”

Barnes had Warren’s other goal on a penalty kick, which tied the match early in the second half.

Marietta’s goal was scored by freshman Alexa Fouss in the opening half.

Warren improved its record to 12-2-1), while Marietta fell to 3-13.

“I thought we played well in the beginning,” said Warren head coach Ekrem Eksi. “We possessed the ball really good. Then, we got into the game, and just couldn’t put it together. We should not have put ourselves in that situation (trailing) but we did. But we came back (in the second half) and made it happen.”

“I thought in the second half, the girls had more energy and willingness – and they started to put it together. It’s a good win.”

During the 19th minute of play, MHS co-captain Katie Miller lofted a long cross from the right wing, which Fouss was able to head past Warren keeper Janelle Barth to make it 1-0, also the halftime score.

“We just made a drastic mistake back there (on defense),” Eksi said.

Said Marietta head coach Jeff Price, “Our defense played great. We felt good (at halftime) but we knew there was going to be a second half, and that Warren would come back hard – which they did.”

During the 43rd minute of play, Barnes surged into the penalty area and was fouled by an MHS defender. On the ensuing PK attempt, the sophomore got the equalizer by beating Lady Tiger keeper Nora Gulick with a blast into the left corner of the net.

“That penalty kick definitely lifted their (Warren’s) spirits,” Price said.

In the 57th minute, Gardner got a nice feed from the left flank from Barnes, and she booted it just inside the left post to make it 2-1.

“She passed it to me, and I just barely got the ball,” said Gardner. “It was rolling so slow, and I was able to put it in the corner. The goalie (Gulick) just barely missed it.”

Gardner scored what proved to be an insurance goal in the 71st minute when she capitalized on Barnes right-wing cross and Gulick’s fumble of the ball.

“The goalie dropped it,” Gardner said. “She had it, and dropped it. I just jumped over and kicked it in.”

Later, Warren nearly had another goal but Gulick was johnny-on-the-spot to catch and save Hayley McPherson’s point-blank head shot.

Marietta also had a couple of opportunities to score in the second half on co-captain Beka Haught’s direct kick and Lucinda Ryder’s point blank shot, but both were grabbed by Barth.

“Everybody worked hard,” Price said. “And, the biggest thing was we were getting good shots, and putting them on goal. Their goalie had to save them.

“I thought we played hard to the last second. That’s the one thing I can say about these girls – they have not quit all year long.”