Berry College drops shutout on Lady Buffs

By Allen LaMountain
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   When a team has had trouble scoring like Berry College has of late, getting on the scoreboard first was the challenge for the Milligan College Lady Buffaloes.
   Berry College sophomore Jessie Williamson beat the Lady Buffs to the punch however, when she put a deflected shot by teammate Juliet Walker past Milligan goalkeeper Emma Wirkus with less than two minutes left in the opening half.
   With that impetus the Lady Vikings went on to score a 2-0 win over Milligan at Anglin Field on Wednesday evening.
   The Lady Vikings got a break off a corner kick late in the first half as Audrey Fonnegra sent the kick into the Milligan goalbox and Walker blasted a shot that hit the top crossbar to where Williamson was laying in wait.
   "It wasn't any great play on my part," said Williamson. "Juliet hit the ball hard and I found it on my foot after it deflected and I put it in the goal. This is the first time we had led in a game for a while. We won our first two, but then we have tied our last four and always had to rally to get even. So it felt good to get a lead for once."
   In the first half Milligan outshot Berry five-to-three, but it's the ones that go in that count, and the Lady Buffs had to regroup for a tough second half.
   "Scoring has sort of been our Achilles heel so far this season," said Milligan head coach Marty Shirley. "We have been playing well and Berry is an excellent team, but we created some good chances for ourselves -- Bianca (Spoto) in particular. Berry is a top 25 NAIA team and we feel that we are close to that."
   Spoto had a solid second half but ran into some bad luck as her corner kick found the side post and deflected away. Milligan wasn't able to pounce on the rebound, and later Spoto saw another blast sail over the top post.
   It was the Milligan defensive end of the field that saw Berry College gain a major advantage when Lady Vikings' freshman midfielder Maren Henseler broke clear outside the Lady Buffs goalbox and was driving on the goal.
   Henseler was taken down in the box and Berry was awarded a penalty, which Leah Updegrave slammed home to give the Lady Vikes a 2-0 lead with 35-minutes still on the clock.
   "I felt like we were starting to press the attack to them when that happened," Shirley said. "They beat us on two free kicks is what it amounts to. We changed our formation in the second half to get more on the attacking end, but we sacrificed in the mid-field because of that."
   That would be precisely where Berry took full advantage, as they beat the Lady Buffs to 50-50 balls in the midfield by a significant margin, and that allowed the Vikings to stall the ball a lot and play keep-away from the pursuing Buffs.
   "We haven't been up on too many teams lately," commented Berry head coach Lorenzo Canalis. "So scoring early gave us some momentum. We knew Milligan would want to press the attack so when we scored it took some pressure off. It was a quality shot and I'm very pleased with the effort tonight. We didn't let them get behind us, so defensively we played well."
   Berry goalkeeper Brenda Mikalajunas fielded just four Milligan shots on goal in the second half, and just seven for the game as her front line of defense did its job well on this night.
   Milligan will face Appalachian Athletic Conference rival Bryan College next, on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Anglin Field with time of the match set for 7 p.m.