By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
Encouraged by the effort.
Disappointed by the result.
That was the shared sentiment of the Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer players as they fled Flinn Stadium Tuesday night following a scoreless tie.
"It's definitely encouraging since it's been a long time coming," said QHS sophomore defender Stephanie Venvertloh, who helped the Blue Devils forge a tie in the city series for the first time since 2008. "We were definitely hungry out there, but it didn't fall in our favor."
That enabled the Lady Raiders to extend their unbeaten streak against their crosstown rivals to 30 consecutive games, a stretch that includes nine straight shutouts. The Blue Devils haven't scored against the Lady Raiders since a 1-1 tie on May 6, 2008.
"It's a little bit of both," QND forward Cassidy Foley said. "We came out and played a ton better than what we did (in last week's season opener). We had our opportunities and we didn't finish. We can grow from this."
The Lady Raiders (0-1-1) did plenty of that in five days.
Uncharacteristically, QND allowed six goals in a 6-5 loss to Jefferson City Helias -- the Lady Raiders allowed just 10 goals while going 28-0 and winning the Class 1A state championship last year -- but
QHS (5-1-1) didn't manage a shot for the first 30 minutes of the second half and finished with just eight shots overall.
Only three of those shots were on goal.
"As a team, we matured," QND coach Mark Longo said. "We grew up a little bit, played a little bit better. I was pleased with our overall effort, but I was disappointed we didn't finish. At least we were getting those opportunities, and that's a good sign.
"Down the road, this game is going to help us."
It helps when leaders emerge.
Foley said freshman sweeper Riley Hummert began to take charge defensively, while junior keeper Grace Horman responded to giving up four goals in the first half against Helias by making three saves.
"We had confidence," Foley said. "We had a leader back there. We were clearing balls. We were winning balls."
Meanwhile, QHS wasn't allowing QND's talented scoring tandem of Foley and Jordan Frericks much space. When they found space, QHS keeper Alex Boyd was there to put up a wall.
In the 22nd minute, the Blue Devils failed to clear a ball, leaving Foley alone 10 yards from the goal and 1-on-1 with Boyd. Foley's one-timer was right at Boyd, who smothered the shot. Less than a minute into the second half, Foley ripped a shot from the left wing that Boyd covered.
She made six saves total.
"The key was staying strong and having faith in our system," Venvertloh said. "We all stayed with our marks and had faith."
They had Boyd, too.
In the 54th minute, Frericks carried the ball across the middle of the field, cut back and ripped a shot for the far left post. Boyd made a diving save, pushing the ball wide of the net.
"Jordan's legs are so long that I knew she could get around the ball, so I was just preparing myself for whatever was going to come at me," Boyd said.
That save was like an adrenaline shot for the QHS defense.
"That energy in the whole stadium picks up when you have someone back there diving and saving us across that goal," Venvertloh said.
The energy carried over to the offense, which put together two solid scoring chances in the final seven minutes.
First, QHS forward Kaleigh Kuhlman beat a QND defender to loose ball in the middle of the field, high in the penalty area. However, her shot carried over the crossbar.
Then, in the closing seconds of regulation, a handball was called on QND just outside the penalty area. In the scramble to get off a shot before time expired, QHS's Jordan Eisenberg pushed an attempt high and wide of the goal.
"It's disappointing, but it's definitely an improvement from what we've been doing, and it proves that we can step up to the plate," Boyd said. "We are ready to play them and compete with them."
The Lady Raiders are at that point, too.
"We just have to come out and play," Foley said. "We came out and played hard."