Lakeville - Shots came at a premium and the respective defenses were stingy as Class 1A LaVille finished in a 0-0 tie against Class 3A Elkhart at Newton Park.
Just a total of eight shots were registered on goal, as both goalies finished with four goalie saves apiece.
The strength of both teams was quite possibly the stellar defense.
"Both teams had a really strong defense out there," said LaVille junior Ava Barrett-Heaton. "I think our defense is much stronger than it was last year. Got some new, good players. But props to Elkhart for sticking up there, too."
LaVille's offense had a majority of their offensive chances in the first half, while Elkhart reversed the trend, trying to capitalize more in the second half.
According to LaVille head coach Brandon Shafer, there might be a smaller chance at that chance to create a shot by making a run.
"A lot of times in these games you are just waiting for that one or two opportunities that you get and then you want to make the most of them," said Shafer. "We had more opportunities in the first half than we did in the second. Elkhart subbed three or four players at a time and they were fresh out on the field. But it all comes down to having possession of the ball, having the ball at our feet, and then being able to make plays."
Heading into the third meeting with Elkhart, LaVille was beaten 5-0 in the first match of the series in late August of 2020. Then last year the Lions picked up a 3-0 victory in Elkhart.
"Most of us came in here pretty confident," Barrett-Heaton said of the 2023 encounter with Elkhart. "I know we tied, but I'm good with that. I would have rather we won. But we didn't lose and they (Elkhart) beat us last year, so I'll take the tie."
Shafer's club took open shots when the opportunity presented itself. One chance appeared after Mikalah Kuskye intercepted a pass, settled the ball, then took her shot that went just left of the goal near the 35 minute mark.
London Kwiatkowski was the next to take a crack at the goal, taking another shot on goal with at the 27:30 mark of the first half. The Elkhart goal keeper was able to stop the Lancer shot.
Elkhart nearly got on the board when Alia Karbalaeali's shot hit the crossbar just over the outreached jump of LaVille goalie Denni Markin. The ball richochet off at the 20-minute mark.
The Lions got another chance in the first half when an Elkhart nearly exectuted a 2-on-1 attempt near the goal, but Barrett-Heaton recovered nicely to deflect the ball near the left side of the goal to keep the visitors off the board.
"Ava has played really well back there," Shafer said of his midfield/defender. "It is a new position for her. She plays defense and plays it well. She gets frustrated with herself, but that is a great sign because that means she cares about what she does. She's coachable and trying to learn, but the one thing for her is she never quits."
As the 2023 season continues toward the second half of the schedule, Shafer likes the effort from the defense, the offense, and the competitiveness.
"Defense threw their bodies in front of a couple of shots today," explained Shafer. "Maybe a couple of good shots on goal that Denni (Markin) had to do a little work for, but our defense made it pretty easy for her even. It's all about contesting those shots and not making anything easy. We are also not giving up that long ball that has hurt us in the past as well. Defense is playing phenomenal. I don't know that we've given up more than a handful of shots.
"Credit to our offense, we talk about possessing the ball and having the ball at our feet, so credit to midfielders and forwards as well," continued Shafer. "One thing (assistant) coach (Angie) Dunlap and I say is we can't coach aggressiveness. We can't coach that drive and will to go after the ball and make every play you can. These girls just have it and it is a benefit to us that they are on our team. As long as we continue for every ball and don't give up anything easy. We wanted to put a goal up on the board (against Elkhart). We wanted to win this game. But, again, we will settle for a tie today. We are battling with good teams."
Elkhart is one of the larger schools on the 2023 schedule with an enrollment of 3,230 students and 20+ players on the varsity roster.
"We are trying to keep our level of play up, we're trying to build towards the end of the season," concluded Shafer. "I don't like ties, but sometimes a tie is a good tie, so we are happy with the result. We continue to play these top level teams at eye level and it's a good sign for us going forward."
LaVille moves to 6-1-1 overall. The bottom half of the schecdule features Trinity Greenlawn, Argos, LaPorte, Logansport, Culver Community, John Glenn, West Noble, and South Bend Riley.
Senior night will be on September 18 against the Berries. Kick is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Newton Park.
LAVILLE 0, ELKHART 0
At Newton Park
Scoring By Halves
Elkhart 0 0 - 0
LaVille 0 0 - 0
Shots On Goal: Elkhart 4, LaVille 4
Corner Kicks: Elkhart 3, LaVille 0
Goalie Saves: Elkhart 4, LaVille (Denni Markin) 4