Greencastle retains Golden Boot with 1-0 win at North Putnam

Friday, August 23, 2013
Greencastle junior Bree Ferrand gets a slight advantage on North Putnam defender Anna Sims and uses it, sneaking a shot past Claire Sims for the only goal of the game on Thursday. Ferrand's score secured the Golden Boot for the Tiger Cubs. (Banner Graphic/GRANT WIEMAN)

ROACHDALE -- While most rivalry games get a chance to heat up over the season, the battle for the Golden Boot was decided after the Greencastle and North Putnam girls' soccer teams had played just a single game each.

The Tiger Cubs retained the coveted trophy, actually a size-three soccer cleat painted gold, with a 1-0 win at the Cougars' home field.

"I'm happy we won," GHS coach Jamie Grivas said. "There's a lot of tension. North Putnam has grown considerable as a program in the last five years."

The win was the second in as many years for the Tiger Cubs (1-1). Junior Bree Ferrand was responsible for the goal, a chip in with 24:34 left in the first half. Junior Mary Parker picked up an assist on the play with a long feed from the center of the field to the Ferrand running down the right.

The Tiger Cubs had a huge number of scoring opportunities, getting the ball into the six-yard box with possession a number of times, but North Putnam's goal keeper was spectacular.

Sophomore Claire Sims finished the game with 15 saves.

"Claire was awesome tonight. She was a wall," North Putnam coach William Gaskins said. "She did everything -- literally everything -- she could, whether it be charging out, whether it be dropping back, whether it be screaming out, 'I got it,' and coming up. She played phenomenal."

The Cougars came out slow and seemed to lack a rhythm early, which allowed the Tiger Cubs to jump out on numerous breaks to the net.

GHS maintained possession for the vast majority of the first half, but resilient and physical Cougars' defense trapped the Tiger Cubs any time they got close and allowed Sims to face mostly disrupted attempts.

North Putnam finally got a few chances of its own late in the second half, pushing the ball into Greencastle's zone on the foot of sophomore Laurel MacGregor, but Greencastle sophomore keeper Amelia Smith kept her defense positioned and halted most of the Cougars chances before they could develop.

While any loss is tough, especially against a rival, Gaskins said it's the 1-0 contests are the most wrenching.

"You're always within inches but you can never get there," he said. "We started real slow, again. They played a lot better in the second half, they started supporting one another and we finally made some runs. ... All the small little mistakes that we made can be fixed."

The Tiger Cubs were happy to get the win, but Grivas said the team knows it could have been much more comfortable.

If GHS had put in a few more of its close looks the squad wouldn't have had to sweat out the win until the final seconds.

"We dominated possession but failed to be able to put it in," Grivas said. "We played OK tonight but we could play better. ... We get a little frazzled, we get a little nervous and we let the hype of the game get under our skin and then we play a little off."


Amelia Smith has become a confident leader in net for the Tiger Cubs.
Just a sophomore, Smith has matured immensely over the last year. While she was passive and, at times, a little shy during her freshman season, the Tiger Cubs keeper has sprouted into a vocal leader who commands her team with constant direction.

Grivas said she tried to empower Smith with more responsibilities this season and it showed on Thursday. Smith yelled constantly and stood 20-25 yards from her net when her team had possession. With the best vantage on the field, Smith is able to direct her teammates into proper positions without any hindrance to her own play.

"She's a great goalie, and then having her talking just enhances everything," Grivas said. "She is more confident. I think walking out as a freshman is a little intimidating but now she knows what to expect. Right before the Tri-West game I asked if she was nervous and she goes, 'No, I'm actually excited.' So that was good for us to hear."

Clairee Sims' strategy, though just as effective, is nearly Smith's opposite.
While the opposing keeper was vocal about strategy, Sims' shouts were mostly encouragement and compliments. The North Putnam keeper also stayed back closer to her own net, often within the six-yard box, which Gaskins said helped her better see the pitch and gave her more time to make reads.

With the runs Greencastle made, it also gave her a better angle on shots. The Tiger Cubs primarily advanced the ball on the edge of the field, playing right into Sims' positioning. She stayed near the goal line and took away angles, allowing her to launch at crosses. Sims was fearless in going after the ball in traffic, which happened a lot.

"As long as she can see it, she'll get there," Gaskins said. "She likes to play deeper than out, but toward the end of that game she started to come out a lot more, and she's doing that to help the defense and give them an extra two- or three-second rest."

North Putnam's physicality helped level the pitch.
The Cougars didn't play dirty, but they also had no problem going hard after the ball and trying to keep pressure on the more passive Tiger Cubs.

Grivas said she warned her team about the possibility of physical play before the game and reminded them to keep a level head. It worked. Neither team was carded during the match but there were a lot more Tiger Cubs on the ground the Cougars, despite a slight size disadvantage.

North Putnam's finesse and passing isn't quite as sharp as Greencastle's, but by playing with an edge it was able to force the action.

"I don't want them to be too physical, but I always say, 'Be aggressive, but be controlled,'" Gaskins said. "I always want them being aggressive. If that means physical contact, that means physical contact, but you're controlled at all times."

Greencastle's next match is Saturday when the Tiger Cubs host Southmont at 10 a.m. North Putnam plays at Owen Valley on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

At North Putnam
Greencastle...............1 0 -- 1
North Putnam............0 0 -- 0

Scoring summary
1st half
24:34 -- GC: Ferrand (from Parker), 1-0

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