FENTON • Ashley Burton wouldn’t change a thing.
Not even getting punched in the face.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the 23rd annual CYC/Joseph Carenza Memorial Tournament, Burton, a striker for the Oakville girls soccer team, was at the back post and jumped to get a head on Lauren Fussell’s free kick. Lindbergh goalkeeper Nina Tzianos tracked the ball through the air and threw her fists up in an attempt to punch the ball out of danger. Tzianos caught Burton, Burton still got the ball and the ball found its way off Burton’s head and into the back of the net. The goal, Burton’s team high 11th, lifted Oakville to a 3-2 win Thursday night at Anheuser-Busch Center.
It’s the second time Oakville (12-3) has won the tournament in the last four years. Lindbergh (8-7-1) was the defending champion.
“It’s amazing,” Burton said of the championship. “Lindbergh is a great rival. To beat them made it that much better. We won this our freshman year. It reminded us of how much fun we’ve had.”
These two teams met two weeks ago, and Oakville escaped with a 1-0 win. Thursday night’s rematch didn’t look a thing like the first. The action was fast-paced and physical with goals, goals and more goals.
Finding a way to slip a single goal past Tzianos is tough. Putting three beyond her grasp is borderline impossible.
All three of the Tigers' goals came on set pieces. Oakville’s standout defender and free kick and corner kick specialist, Fussell picked up three assists. Midfielder Abby Ullo headed home a beauty of a goal midway through the first half. Fussell put the ball deep in the Lindbergh box on a corner, and Ullo was able to slip in front of Tzianos and cash in at point blank range.
Mere moments into the second half, Abby Bergman pushed Oakville ahead 2-1 when she was able to poke one home.
Lindbergh kept slugging away. After losing at Oakville, the Flyers rattled off seven straight victories. Coach Mark Giesing said his team played to its strengths.
“We’re very effective when we keep the ball on the ground,” Giesing said. “That is our strength.”
The Flyers tied the game at 1-1 with under five minutes to play in the first half when Julie Rossi was able to take advantage of a miscue by Oakville sophomore goalkeeper Tina Haberberger. Haberberger, whose exceptional play helped the Tigers reach the title game, had the ball slip through her fingers deep in the box. It landed at Rossi’s feet, and she knocked it into the net.
“That was uncharacteristic of her,” Oakville coach Dave Robben said. “She kept us in it the last two games.”
Less than a minute after Bergman put the Tigers up, Eileen Koppy was able to tie the game when she scored on a free kick from Kate Campbell.
Oakville pushed the pressure, particularly in the counter-attack, but Tzianos was able to come up with several saves that kept the game tied until Burton headed home the winner.
That the Tigers found a way to score three goals without starting forward Chloe Hutcheson speaks to their depth. Oakville lost Hutcheson last week to a broken bone in her foot. She was integral to Oakville’s attack this spring.
“It’s so hard playing without her,” Burton said. “Other girls are stepping up. Someone else has to fill her role.”