A standout defensive performance insured Frederica Academy got all the offense it would need to pick up a win over Trinity Christian in a two and a half minute stretch stretch of the first half Friday.
Goals by Mary Helen Veal and Belle Slapikas staked the Knights to a 2-0 lead at halftime, and Frederica’s crisp passing and smothering defense made sure the score stood at the end of senior night.
“I think our girls did a good job of moving today and finding those open spaces,” said girls head coach Gabe Gabriel. “We’ve really been working towards that the whole season, and they really excelled at that today.
“It’s just keep it grinding, keep it working to that end product, and now it’s starting to show at a really good time.”
Neither team was able to breakthrough over the first 30 minutes of the contest until a pass down the sideline gave Veal some room to work with fewer than nine minutes remaining in the half.
With a trio of Trinity Christian’s pedaling backwards to help defend the net, Veal was forced to uncork a shot from the right that managed to catch the inside of the left post and deflect into the goal to break the scoreless tie.
A few minutes later, Frederica wrestled possession back and set up for a corner kick. Slapikas’ kick rose steadily as it approached the net before bending around the goalpost and dropping between the crossbar and the outstretched arms of the Trinity keeper for a score with 6:08 to play in the first half.
“It was really good,” Gabriel said. “I think if you put those teams under pressure, put them in a bad situation, good things happen, and that was two really good examples of that.
“As long as we can keep consistent pressure on their end then we’ll be successful overall.”
The second half featured some physical play from both sides, as evidenced by a handful of collisions, a couple of which resulted in brief stoppages.
But the Knights never relented, and though they weren’t able to add to their lead, they were never in danger of allowing the Crusaders back into the game by playing much of the half on their opponent’s side of the field.
Perhaps Trinity Christian’s best scoring opportunity came with under a minute remaining on a run out, but even with the game in hand, Frederica pushed to get back and maintain the shutout.
The Knights have just three games left on their schedule before the GISA playoffs begin April 29. Frederica will host Camden County on Monday in a battle against a team from the biggest classification in the GHSA before traveling to Lyons to face off against Robert Toombs on Thursday.
“That’ll be a really good test for us to see where we’re at with them and to prepare us for the upcoming fixtures,” Gabriel said.