WOOD RIVER — The Roxana Shells girls' soccer team had a little change of plans in the scheduling during the East Alton-Wood River Tournament, but the outcome was just what they imagined.
Roxana defeated the Mascoutah Indians on Saturday with a final score of 2-0, after splitting the championship game over two days. The Shells improved their season record to 5-2, while the Indians slipped to 3-4.
The Indians and Shells played the first half on Thursday, but were forced to shut down due to storms moving into the area. The Shells had a one-goal advantage, scored by Niah Bevelo with an assist by Claire Bollinger, going into the break.
"The refs made the call on Thursday," Roxana head coach Lori Yates said. "I think most of us would've rather played the game out that day so we could have played our other teams today, but it was out of our hands. Breaking games up into two halves can be a risk. A lot can happen in a couple of days and so you never know if the outcome could change because it's a new day."
Starting the second half of the game with a short lead, the Shells were anxious to get an insurance goal to gain some space against the Indians. Roxana freshman Brynn Huddleson found herself in the right place at the right time to nail a shot over the hands of Mascoutah keeper Sam Barnhart off a corner kick by Emma Lucas.
Roxana senior keeper Sam Hurst didn't have a lot of action during the tournament, but Mascoutah kept her on her toes and her head as she made 18 saves during the final game.
"We've worked a lot on defense this year," Yates said. "This is the defense I knew we had. Defense kept us in this tournament. If our opponents don't score goals, we can't lose. Miranda Cunningham is the rock back there and Sam (Hurst) is our wall. Sam is always nails, she's tough. You're not going to come into her goal area and get an easy goal, you have to work for it if you want a goal on her."
In a highly physical game, the Indians put the pressure on the Shells as both teams battled to finish every pass, shot and block. Mascoutah junior Tonya Ternovaya was carried off the field by her teammates after a collision in the Shells goal with Hurst as she followed up a shot.
"We have to give a ton of credit to Roxana," Mascoutah head coach Nick Carr said. "They came out ready to play and they didn't back down. It was a physical game, and the refs did a good job of calling penalties that needed to be called, but they also let the girls play their game and being physical is part of soccer. We worked hard out there and left everything on the field. I can't ask for more than that."
Yates was thrilled with her team's performance and after the game she announced an extra day off on Monday to her players as a reward for their hard work to take the title.
"Our goal as a team is to be better than the game you played before," Yates said. "Using this half of the game as a separate game, we were definitely better today than the first half. We had a lot of good soccer, a lot of passes, great communication. A lot of the things we've worked on in practice, you saw today and they all played well together."
The Roxana girls will have a few days off to enjoy the win before hitting the road to face off with Marquette on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.