By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Winfield’s potent offense is not to be taken lightly.
The unbeaten, defending Class AAA state champions have had just one close game this year, a 1-0 win over Wheeling Park. They’ve beaten three teams by 10 goals or more, including a 12-0 victory over Capital Thursday night.
Knowing that, Woodrow Wilson coach Paulette Umberger wasn’t about to put her young team through the buzzsaw Tuesday night at the YMCA’s Paul Cline Stadium.
She shook up her lineup, removing a forward and pulling playmaker Sarah Akers back from center-midfielder to defense.
Winfield still took eight shots on goal, and had several other chances, but the Generals scored on just two of them for a 2-0 non-blowout win.
“We changed our lineup to a 4-5-1, and it definitely gave us stronger defense,” Umberger said. “I’m sorry we lost, but I thought we played well.”
Winfield (9-0) dominated possession, but Woodrow often frustrated the Generals with its packed, swarming defense around the box.
They took eight shots on goal, but Lady Eagles keeper Emily Lane stopped six of them, including two within five yards out.
“Winfield is an excellent team. They pass the ball well and they’re fast,” Umberger said. “I thought we did a really good job to hold them to two goals.”
The Generals finally found the back of the net in the 23rd minute, when E.M. Zulaut found Jayne Lawman in the middle of the box. Lawman lofted the ball over Lane for the score.
Just a couple of minute later, Lane made a highlight reel-type diving save to her left on a shot by Micharae Thompson.
The frustrated Generals took three other shots in the opening half, but each went high or wide.
“We see teams pack in the numbers quite often,” Winfield coach Marshall Hoff said. “Woodrow did a good job of it. They were able to hold us off and throw off our attacks.”
Winfield took five more shots on goal in the second half, but only one went in. Jordan Pauley found an open Mary Lawman, who turned and fired past Lane in the 47th minute.
“We moved the ball a lot better in the second half.” Hoff said. “You don’t want to lose the speed of attack, but you have to be patient and clever.”
The game was cleanly played, with just one minor foul by each team. Lane finished with six saves, while Winfield keeper Braiden Maddox had one on a shot by the Lady Eagles’ Kaylee Hilliard.
Woodrow was coming off a 2-2 draw to county rival Shady Spring Monday.
“We started a new lineup today without any practice whatsoever,” Umberger said. “They listened to what we told them to do.
“We’re young, and some of our freshmen really stepped up and played well. They weren’t waiting for someone else to do it.”
Woodrow (3-3-3) plays Thursday at Greenbrier East.
Umberger has high hopes for the team by tournament time.
“If you get a little better each game, and each week, who knows where you’ll be at the end of the season,” she said.
Winfield’s next game is next Thursday at Parkersburg, a team Woodrow battled to a 2-2 draw Aug. 24.
“This is a driven bunch. They made that journey (to the championship) last season, and they know what it takes to get back,” Hoff said. “They’re willing to give it.”
— E-mail: dstillwell