By MATT SCHUCKMANHerald-Whig Sports Editor
Quincy Notre Dame soccer coach Mark Longo had no reservations saying Tuesday night's 1-0 victory against Hannibal was junior midfielder Lauren Vahlkamp's best effort of the season.
"She was involved," Longo said.
Vahlkamp had to be for the Lady Raiders to survive.
With less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, Vahlkamp made a run up the left side, got inside a defender and centered a pass to Cassidy Foley, who laced her shot between keeper Kaitlyn Edge and the near post for the only goal at Legends Stadium.
"That's what the coaches were telling me to do," Vahlkamp said. "And it worked."
It helped that she could see the play developing.
"I could see it very vividly," Vahlkamp said.
It eased some of the Lady Raiders' tension. QND (5-0-1) outshot Hannibal 24-1 but was held scoreless for nearly 74 minutes.
"It was intense and you just want to score," Vahlkamp said. "But you know you have teammates who are pushing you and help you advance."
Even so, Hannibal (5-1) seemed to have an answer for everything with a collapsing, responsive defense.
"We did a nice job defensively, but we played defense too much in the second half," Hannibal coach Eric Hill said. "It was a little more back-and-forth in the first half. They had us on our heels in the second half."
The problem was the Lady Pirates couldn't generate a counterattack. QND keeper Julie Rabe handled the ball just once in the second half and never was pressured.
"I felt our defense hung in tight," Hill said. "Our midfield, we need to pick up a little bit, and we need to get things going up top a little bit better, combining things with our forwards instead of trying to get it to them and then turning and running."
Although neither Hill nor any of the Lady Pirates wanted to consent to taking a moral victory, a one-goal game is a sign of continued progress.
Last year, QND beat Hannibal 3-1. Two years ago, QND won 8-0.
"We showed we can play with a team like this," Hill said. "The girls just have to understand we can't go into a game and hope that we can play tight with them. We want to go in with the mentality we're going to win those games."