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ZEROED IN: Chiefs break scoring drought vs. Northville, post 2-0 victory

 ZEROED IN: Chiefs break scoring drought vs. Northville, post 2-0 victory

Canton’s Emily Fagerman pushes the ball upfield during Thursday’s game against Northville.

Following the first half of Thursday night’s game against Northville, Canton’s girls soccer team hadn’t scored a single goal against the Mustangs in 120 minutes of action this season — but it must have seemed like 120 years to the usually offensively-potent Chiefs.

The goal drought ended in dramatic fashion for the Chiefs, who lit up the scoreboard early in the second half when Kayla Rankin controlled a pass from Karly Ruffner and left-footed the ball past diving Northville keeper Simran Magnan, sparking a long-time-coming celebration in the shadow of the crossbar.

Roughly three minutes after Mustang Allyson Yezback nearly tied the game at 1-1 when her rising laser from 20 yards out banged off the crossbar, Canton’s hard-charging Grace Tarquinto scored when she nudged home a rebound off a Nora Schley free kick to give the hosts a commanding 2-0 lead with 12:22 remaining.

“The key to this win was our mentality,” said Canton Head Coach George Easter, whose team improved to 5-1-3 in the KLAA West Division. “Every single time we play Northville, we go into it like, ‘OK, we haven’t scored on them in how many games?’ We know we’re good enough (to score), we just have to play like it.

Solving Magnan

“At halftime, we talked about picking up our speed of play and our urgency. It was like, ‘Hey, let’s do what we can to get the ball in the back of the net’.”

To check out video highlights from Thursday’s game, click here.

A Northville player shadowed by a Chief defender sprints to daylight Thursday night
A Northville player shadowed by a Chief defender sprints to daylight Thursday night

Rankin’s slick goal sparked equal parts joy and relief, considering a second consecutive 0-0 draw was looming given Magnan is one of the elite keepers in the state — and Canton’s defense was playing at its usual high level.

Playing without scheduled starting goal-keeper Julia Tasker, the Chiefs were bolstered by the performance of Bella Kanaan, who put the exclamation point on the shutout with a spectacular diving save in the game’s final minute.

“Bella didn’t learn she’d be starting until a short time before the game, so she set herself mentally pretty quickly and really came through in the clutch,” said Easter. “That last save was proof that she belongs to be out there.”

Tarquinto’s goal, which gave the Chiefs some breathing room, was the product of the diligence to details the team displays on non-game days.

Practice pays off

“We’ve been working on free kicks a lot at practice and Nora Schley’s shot (that led to the Chiefs’ second goal) was a great one,” Tarquinto said, describing how the play unfolded. “I knew Northville’s keeper is really good, so I crashed the net and when I saw the ball bounce off the keeper, I ran into it as fast as I could.

Canton junior Somer Qureshi settles the ball Thursday night as Zaina Fakhoury closes in
Canton junior Somer Qureshi settles the ball Thursday night as Zaina Fakhoury closes in

“Seeing the ball roll in was so exciting. I ran as fast as I could to Nora to celebrate with her.”

Tarquinto said Northville is one of Canton’s top non-PCEP rivals, making the victory extra-special.

“The games are always intense when we play them,” she said. “We haven’t scored a lot of goals on them recently, so getting two on them tonight was exciting.”

Shorthanded success

The Chiefs won without the services of multiple resting starters, which shined a spotlight on the team’s depth.

“We have a larger roster and I’m confident in all the girls we have,” Easter said. “They’re all capable of doing big things when they get a chance.

“It was a bit of a hit tonight not having all of our starters, but we know if we keep to our game plan, we’ll be OK.”

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

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Ed Wright

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