By Greg Gielczyk
FRUITPORT –– Fruitport has always provided a tough test for the Ludington girls soccer team, and that certainly held true Wednesday night when the two teams locked horns in a Division 2 district quarterfinal contest on the Lady Trojans’ home pitch.
After a scoreless first 40 minutes, the Lady Orioles finally found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half and escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory to advance to next week’s semifinals.
“It was very evenly played,” said Ludington head coach Kris Anderson. “Both teams had opportunities. I felt going in we were two pretty evenly matched teams.
“I felt we struggled a little bit in the first half, kind of gaining possession and maintaining possession against them. That’s a compliment to Fruitport on how well they were winning balls, and creating opportunities against us.”
Ludington scored off a counter attack, with its two strikers both ending up taking a shot which resulted in some rebounds before Maddy Billings put it away.
Both teams had some great opportunities in the remaining time. Ludington goalkeeper Anyssa Castaneda stood tall in the net, finishing the game with 10 saves.
It was more than just the saves, however.
“She was coming out and taking away a lot of through balls,” Anderson added. “She was very aggressive coming out and winning balls.
“That took away Fruitport scoring opportunities. She was knocking balls away on crosses off of corner kicks, and taking away opportunities that they might possibly develop. She played very well for us, and was outstanding.”
Anderson added that he didn’t feel the Lady Orioles were able to get possession through their midfield as much as they should have against the Lady Trojans.
Ludington infrequently played it well to the outside mids, and got some great crosses and dangerous opportunities. But, it just didn’t quite click enough for the Lady O’s to gain more breathing room.
“Fruitport traditionally plays us really tough,” Anderson said. “We have a tough time against them. It’s kind of one of those schools that over our soccer history that has had our number, so this is kind of a good win for us tonight.
“They were the team that knocked us out last year, and we felt we were a really good team.”
Ludington returned only three girls who started on last year’s team.
“So, for us to get back and get a victory over them this year is a compliment to all those other girls as far as the effort they put in, and the development that they have had throughout the season,” said Anderson.
The Lady Orioles improved to 13-7-1 and will play Whitehall (9-7) next Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the district semifinal at Spring Lake. White Hall defeated Fremont, 3-2 on Wednesday.