Alligood saves 17 in loss to J.H. Rose

Published 8:30 pm Friday, March 13, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS HEART BREAKER: Midfielder Caitlyn Scott chases down a defender in the second half of Friday’s loss to J.H. Rose. Scott finished with two shots.

HEART BREAKER: Midfielder Caitlyn Scott chases down a defender in the second half of Friday’s loss to J.H. Rose. Scott finished with two shots.

Goalkeeper Emily Alligood spent most of her junior season for the Pam Pack as a conductor, shouting commands and adjusting the defense to her specifications, while the midfield, arguably one of the best group of four players in the state, absorbed and redirected opponents’ possessions. She averaged just five saves per game because, well, chances on net came at a premium.

But with the graduations of Alana Jefferson and Harley Hudson, along with a collection of new faces filling new roles, the midfield continues to be a work in progress. As a result, Washington’s senior goalkeeper is being put to the test.

On Friday, she answered the call, but her 17 saves offered merely a defensive constant, as the Pam Pack fell to J.H. Rose, 1-0, for a second-consecutive year.

“The Rose offense hit a lot of good through balls and ran their routes really well,” Alligood said. “They knew where they were going with the ball and played well in the center, so they had some pretty good opportunities to put it in the back of the net.”

Utilizing the open space with a series of one- and two-touch passing, the Rampants kept the Washington midfield in a near constant state of pursuit, dominating the time of possession and working the ball through the heart of the midfield. Sophomore Sydney Edwards used her speed to keep pace and the ball out of the middle, but was hardly enough to cover four attackers.

Of Rose’s 19 shots, 17 required saves, and only the first shot of the afternoon found its way past Alligood. Six minutes into the contest, sophomore Summer Kenney found a seam up the far sideline and fired a bad-angle shot towards net. Reading the stike, junior Mackenzie Alread stuck her leg out. The ball deflected off her knee and redirected it to the opposite side of Alligood to put the Rampants up 1-0 right out of the gate.

“It just deflected off the shin guard, went off the girl’s leg and went up enough to make Emily go the wrong way. It’s alright, we played (the possession) well,” Rodriguez said.

Following the quick goal, Washington collapsed on the Rose forwards and prevented them from finding their way into the box. Edwards, who began the season at striker but was moved back to the midfield this week, and senior Caitlyn Scott finally began to maintain possession and work the ball to the Rose defense, but finishing on the other end proved difficult.

“We dropped Sydney back to strengthen the midfield, so we can strengthen the overall team,” Rodriguez said. “She’s a little quicker, covers a lot more ground, and that was the main reason for the move.”

The ball spending most of its time on the Pam Pack end, Rose began to force corner kicks and get viable opportunities at net via set pieces. However, Alligood and the Pam Pack defense continued to muffle seemingly every strike.

Washington’s best chance on net came with 19 minutes remaining in the second half. Edwards stole the ball in the midfield, juked out two defenders and laid a perfect through ball to the right foot of Warner Little, who had just one defender to beat. Little worked her way from the sideline and to the middle of the field, firing a shot right at the keeper, who made the save, an uncomfortable one at that.

Despite being outshot 10-3, Washington was down by just one goal at the break.

A few halftime adjustments resulted in a couple of offside penalties from Rose to start the half, but again, Little and forward Sydney Walker couldn’t find any open space.

It wasn’t until there was 13 minutes remaining that the Washington attack would have a workable chance to tie the game. Scott dribbled down the near sideline about 60 yards until forcing a one-on-one with the goalie. Unfortunately for the Pam Pack, Scott’s shot came just a second too late and the keeper made the save.

Rodriguez sees the loss as a learning experience against a 4-A team with a proven resume, part of the reason he schedules Rose each year.

“You have to have tough competition to see what you’re made of, what you need to work on and to see what’s working,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll be tough once conference comes. That’s the main thing because winning conference gets you a good seed in the playoffs. We have a tough week ahead.”

With the loss, the defending state runner-up drops to 3-3 and will face North Lenoir in LaGrange on Tuesday.