Lily Bulman

Maplewood senior defender Lily Bulman played her final game of her Tiger career on Saturday.

TOWNVILLE — Following Saturday morning’s season finale for the Maplewood girls soccer team, head coach Ted Eriksen labeled the 2020 campaign as a “frustrating” one, citing injuries as the main culprit for the Tigers’ woes.

“We lost so many of our starters,” said Eriksen. “And we did not get them back until the last two games of the season. We just could not stay healthy.”

Maplewood's frustrations reached its apex over the weekend, as Conneaut Area came into town and snuck away with a 2-1 win, their second one-goal decision against the Tigers this season.

From the opening kick, neither side was giving the other any kind of comfortable leg room, as both clubs had to out-push and out-shove their opponent for even a chance inside their respective attacking zones. 

The Tiger defense put forth a physical challenge against the Conneaut Area front line, allowing only one shot on goal in the first half. However, the lone shot on net for the Eagles came on a penalty kick that Hannah Brady was able to convert to put the visitors ahead 1-0.

Maplewood did not waste time trying to orchestrate a response. After a clearance on the Tigers’ defensive end, the ball found the foot of McKenzie Means. The junior midfielder carried the ball into the 18-yard box where she was met immediately by a duo of Eagle defenders. Means, however, kept her composure and managed to fire a missile at Conneaut Area netminder Jocelyn Denihan. Despite initially coming up with the save, the heat put on the ball by Means was too much for Denihan to handle as the shot popped out of her arms and over the goal line.

After going into the break tied at 1-1, both sides emerged from their respective huddles with the drive and momentum that had been pushing them in the first 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it was the Eagles who found the tiebreaker from Brady.

The Tigers gave it everything they had in the final moments, with Means garnering the best chance in the last two minutes, carrying the ball into attacking territory against a convocation of Eagles, only to send a shot into the breadbasket of Denihan, sealing the win.

After the game, Eriksen described his team’s performance as a little too “passive.”

“We had a few opportunities,” said Eriksen. “We had our moments where we stepped up and controlled a lot of that second half, but our finishing was not there today, and our desire to win 50-50 balls was not there.”

Maplewood wraps up its 2020 season with a 5-11 overall record, and an identical mark in Region 3. The Tigers should expect an experienced bunch back in 2021, as defender Lily Bulman is the only player who will be lost to graduation.

Bulman contributed one assist during her senior tenure. Eriksen offered his thoughts on her impact postgame.

“I always say she’s like a balloon with the air coming out, because she just flies,” explained Eriksen. “She plays full tilt 100% all the time, and she really anchored her side of the defense really well this year. It’s the first year we moved her back to the defensive line. She’s been a great player, and as our captain she’s provided energy more than anything. She will be hard to replace.”

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