BURTON—A bit of history was created in Chagrin Falls’ 1-0 Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division matchup at Berkshire on Wednesday.
The Tigers and host Badgers had never met on the field before this season and Berkshire also was playing in its first Chagrin Division contest in program history.
“They were an unknown,” Chagrin Falls coach Pamela Malone said of the Badgers. “I’m impressed with the Berkshire team, I really am. They were gutsy and gritty. No. 15, Lexi Boyk, obviously she was on our radar. She challenged us and that was good. They have a nice team.”
Berkshire held its own with the Tigers for all but about 10 seconds of the 80-minute game.
That lapse occurred 10 minutes into the second half when Peyton Gellin sent a free-kick into the box where Berkshire keeper Emma Musick leaped to catch the ball. Upon impact with the ground, Musick lost control and Chagrin Falls’ Sarah Burgess tapped it into freshman Kate Bartlett’s path.
“We talk about being a finisher,” Malone said of Bartlett’s decisive goal. “It’s not going to look pretty or the ball that goes through the back of the net. It’s going to be scrappy goals, especially on a free-kick. Some of our other free-kicks were going over. We told Peyton to drive that one low so we could get some action on it. That’s what we tried to do on that one. The goalie smothered it initially and then it popped out and pinged around a little bit. She was in the right place at the right time and just popped it in.”
Berkshire had a couple of scoring opportunities of its own, none better than Boyk’s first-half breakaway when she was tackled by Chagrin keeper Aerin Krebs.
The Badgers couldn’t take advantage of the free-kick and struggled to punch one in against the Tigers’ stout defense.
“They have No. 17, Katie Schumacher, back there and she’s really, really tough,” Berkshire coach Ian Patterson said. “I went and watched them play twice last week. They haven’t given up a goal and they played two bigger schools that were powerhouse programs in the past. She just locks everything down. She’s so quick and so efficient with the ball. She sweeps everything away. She doesn’t play as a sweeper, she plays as a center back but she cleans everything up because she’s so quick. It’s hard to beat her.”
Chagrin Falls was equally ineffective in mounting a consistent attack.
Berkshire’s home field isn’t as wide as what the Tigers are accustomed to playing on, which forced Malone and the Tigers to alter their approach.
“We have a wide game that we like to play,” Malone said. “We like to stretch the field and play wide and this kind of made us make some adjustments. Sometimes you come in and you’re out of your element and you don’t play your game and I think in the first half we weren’t playing our game. We weren’t playing the ball down, we weren’t playing possession and we kind of lost the midfield. We made an adjustment at halftime and got the midfield back and then put some other people up top and changed the game around. We didn’t let them get in our heads, which we were starting to.”
Chagrin Falls improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Chagrin Division while Berkshire dropped to 2-2, 0-1.
Despite the loss, the Badgers earned respect from the Tigers.
“It was the first time for us in the top division in the CVC and the first time ever playing Chagrin for the program so I was super happy with the result,” Patterson said. “It kind of proved that we belong with the rest of the teams. It was a good confidence booster for the girls to make them believe in themselves as well. It was all good things from tonight.”