McKenzie Means

Maplewood’s McKenzie Means (21) looks to carry the ball up the field. Means’ first-half goal was the lone tally of Monday’s game against Titusville at Carter Field.

Even though there was only one goal scored under the lights at Carter Field on Monday, there was still a ton of action.

McKenzie Means’ first-half goal was held up by the Maplewood defense, as the Tigers played spoiler to the Titusville Rockets’ senior night festivities during a 1-0 Region 3 girls soccer contest.

Means found the back of the net with 13:41 remaining in the first half after both teams were jousting back-and-forth for offensive pressure. Means took a pass from Maya Marshall right up the middle of the Rocket defense for a breakaway opportunity, which was converted past Titusville goalkeeper Paisley Crawford into the lower right corner of the net for her third goal of the season.

Monday’s matchup was the second go-around for the two neighboring schools. The Tigers defended their home field at Maplewood Elementary School on Sept. 16 with a 2-0 victory. With the victory, Maplewood has now won two in a row and are 4-6 overall, while Titusville falls to 2-8.

Other than Means’ goal, both defenses displayed a tremendous amount of effort. Crawford stopped six Tiger chances on goal, while Maplewood netminder Natalie Slagle made three saves in her second shutout bid of the campaign.

Maplewood had a majority of the early pressure in the first half, compiling 16 shots compared to five for Titusville. The Tigers were able to get into their attack thanks to the hard work on goal kicks, as they earned the bulk of the first and second touches.

The Rocket defense stood tall, blocking six of those chances before they ever made their way to Crawford in goal. Means had a couple of open looks that sailed wide of the net before finally connecting late in the first half.

“McKenzie’s goal was a thing of beauty,” Maplewood coach Ted Eriksen said. “It’s something we’ve been working on where Maya kind of shields the ball for her. It’s just a set play where she comes up flying from the back. The two of them combined did what we’ve been working on and it was great.”

Titusville limited the Maplewood offense to just the one goal, and turned the momentum around at the start of the second half. The Rockets had a couple of quality chances to tie the game. Seven minutes into the half, Anna Shellgren took a direct kick from 28 yards out, but the shot was blocked by the Tigers. A few minutes later, Bella Middleton put a shot on goal that was turned away by Slagle.

“We were on our heels in the beginning,” Titusville coach Luke Dye said. “We weren’t stepping to balls and we were just waiting for them. We talked about how important this was at halftime. Our intensity stepped up, but our goal-creating chances weren’t quite there. The second half we really came out them hard. It seemed like we had 75% possession on our half.”

Although the Rockets didn’t convert, their defense didn’t allow the Tigers to get their first shot until the 27:00 mark and continued to keep them out of the goal. Maplewood’s Jordyn Ploski had a chance for some insurance with about 10 minutes left when she took a direct kick at the 20 yard line, but her shot passed just over the crossbar.

Needing a goal to stay alive, the Rockets scrambled to find the equalizer, but it never came. Titusville worked for one final chance just under the three minute mark as Adeline Hartshorne crossed the ball in the box over to Brooke Anthony, but her shot went just wide of the post and out of bounds.

Maplewood totaled 21 shots and seven on goal in the winning effort. Titusville finished with 14 shots, three on them on target. Prior to the contest, Rocket seniors Hartshorne, Olivia Samonsky and Lindsay Sines were honored on the field.

Both teams return to the pitch on Wednesday in Region 3 contests. Maplewood hosts Oil City at 4 p.m., while Titusville is back at Carter Field against Franklin at 6:30 p.m. 

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