Friday, December 9, 2022

Sturgill notches hat trick in Cuyahoga Heights’ win over Trinity

Reagan Sturgill can be a handful on the soccer field, whether she’s trying to show off or just playing straight-up.

Such was the case Thursday when the Cuyahoga Heights sophomore scored three goals to lead her team to a 5-1 victory over host Trinity in a Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division encounter.

Having gone 4-0-1 in their last five games, the Redskins are now 4-4-2 overall and 1-2-2 in conference play, while Trinity falls to 4-5-1 and 0-4-1.

“This was definitely one of my better games,” Sturgill said. “It reminded me a lot of the Beachwood game (a 5-3 loss). A lot of my friends play for them and I was trying to impress. Today, it wasn’t about impressing. It was just playing our game.”

Sturgill, who plays her club soccer for the Internationals, now has 14 goals on the season, by far the most on the team. She actually could have had two more against Trinity, as one goal was disallowed on a mystery call from the sideline official, and another shot hit the crossbar and bounced away.

“I think the difference was Reagan, honestly,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Christy Zawadzki said. “I would say she was reasonably aggressive today, and she stepped up and took her shots. It was a physical game in the middle, and she did a good job of fending them off.”

Sturgill was quick to give credit to her teammates, who spread the Trinity defense across the field, leaving space for her to exploit.

“Using our outside and then beating people in the middle when I can, definitely helps a lot,” she said. “It opens up space and gives me room to shoot.”

Trinity coach Cal Jefferson said he tried to prepare his team to face a player of Sturgill’s caliber, but it just didn’t seem to matter.

“I warned them about her, but you can only warn so much with a talent like that,” he said. “We want to play tight defensively. We love to use the trap. We got out of those things when they started doing their things. We didn’t play that nice, compact defense. We didn’t let things come to us and then go from there. We ran at them and just got pulled apart, which is what they wanted to do. They won that battle.”

The early stages of the game definitely favored the hosts. The game was played on a grass field with very long grass, and the Redskins had trouble adjusting, leaving many passes short.

“We practice on grass, but our games are on turf,” Zawadzki said. “But the grass we practice on is never this long—it’s actually cut. The grass slowed down our usual pace of play. When you play on turf, when you kick the ball it goes much further. You’re not used to having to kick it as hard to get it through the grass. When we were trying to make our aggressive runs, the ball was being held up in the grass.”

The Trojans were first to find the nets, as senior Kaitlyn Rezabek redirected a corner kick from Jillian Kalic just 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the match. The corner was not defended well, as it rolled all the way across the mouth of the goal before Rezabek got a foot on it. However, Trinity and leading scorer Summer Wrobel were held scoreless the rest of the way.

“Things looked pretty good there for a little bit, but they got us out of our game, and that was that,” Jefferson said. “Kudos to them. The girls were just not into it today. They had played some brilliant matches recently, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t transfer into this game.”

The equalizer came 16 minutes later on a play that demonstrates the effect Sturgill has on an opponent. Freshman Tessa Studinarz took a free kick for the Redskins about 40 yards out, and she sailed it over the Trinity defense. As goalie Lexi Jacobson came out for the ball, Sturgill ran in from the other direction, forcing Jacobson to choose between playing the ball or defending Sturgill. In the end, she did neither and the ball bounced into the goal, giving Studinarz her first goal of the season.

That goal opened the flood gates, as Sturgill scored twice in the next five minutes, one after deflecting in a corner kick from Kenni Voytek, and the other as a result of her individual brilliance, dribbling through the Trinity defense and scoring on what amounted to being a breakaway.

Sturgill scored her final goal just 3:30 into the second half, hitting a rocket shot from 25 yards out that hit the inside of the right post and angled into the goal. Cuyahoga Heights completed the scoring 10 minutes later when freshman Natalie Mischak scored her third of the season, finishing off a corner kick from Voytek.

When asked about her team getting its first conference victory of the season, Zawadzki let out a big sigh.

“Finally,” she said. “It’s been a rebuilding year for us, and it started out very, very slow. I mean, we started out 0-4. Now we’re finally getting the experience. We are very young. We have one senior that plays, and we start five freshmen. So, they’re starting to get their legs underneath them and understanding the game more. We still have a long way to go, but we’re making baby steps.”

On the other hand, Trinity is still searching for that first victory in its new league.

“We’re still looking for the first conference win,” Jefferson said. “I think we’ve played every match tough, and we’ll continue to. We’re all surprised by that, so I think we’re ahead of where we expected to be, which is a good thing. We just have to stay focused and keep working hard.”

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