If the Harlem girls soccer players were looking to make a statement, they made it loud and clear Tuesday night.
That's when the Lady Bulldogs went to Lakeside and came away with a 2-2 tie with the favored Lady Panthers.
"I expected it to be a close game," Harlem coach George Berry said. "We knew we had to play perfect ball to win. We didn't play perfect ball, but we played close to it."
According to the stats, the game shouldn't have been close. Lakeside out-shot Harlem 36-5 on the night, but Lady Bulldog goalkeeper Meagan Morgan made save after save in weather conditions less than ideal for soccer.
Although there was no rain during play, a steady downpour the previous night made for a soggy and slick playing field.
"It was to our advantage," Berry said. "It changes the game tempo, and it evens the playing field a little."
Lakeside took a first-half advantage to start the game. With five minutes before halftime, senior Jenny Whitt scored on a shot that deflected off a Harlem defender and into the net. The Lady Panthers held the lead despite picking up two yellow cards in the final four minutes of the half.
The fouls continued to haunt Lakeside in the second half when Harlem was awarded a penalty kick after a Lady Panther committed a foul in her own penalty box.
Harlem senior Jamie Nevin converted the penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1. The Lady Bulldogs took the lead just more than five minutes later when junior Christie Hart made a cross to senior Elissa Botts for a 2-1 Harlem advantage.
"We had the prettiest goal of the game. It was a great cross and a great put-away," Berry said.
The Lady Panthers avenged their earlier penalty mistakes with a goal on a penalty kick of their own with 14:20 left in the game. The score came off the foot of junior Ashley Wray to tie the game at 2-2. The contest ended with the teams still tied, which extended Harlem's undefeated streak to six games.
Although the contest wasn't a region game, Berry said it did give the Lady Bulldogs plenty of momentum.
"We should have a lot of confidence going into our next game," he said. "That's what we wanted."
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