Banks girls soccer team continues to show progress in a league match against Astoria

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks freshman forward Lauren Hill goes one-on-one against Astoria goalkeeper Katie Russell during last Thursday's Cowapa League soccer match. Russell saved the shot and the teams played to a scoreless draw.The score was different, but the result was the same.

Back on Sept. 26, the Banks girls soccer team tied Astoria on the road. The two squads met again Thursday at Sunset Park for the rematch. Despite creating several dangerous opportunities, the Braves were forced to settle for a 0-0 tie with the Fishermen, leaving the home side still fighting an uphill battle for a crack at a postseason berth.

“We worked very well as a team, and we played our hearts out on that field,” said Holly Dotson, who picked up the shutout in goal for Banks. “There’s nothing I could have asked better from my team. They performed like they should.”

Banks moved to 3-4-3 overall and 1-3-3 in Cowapa League action to slot into fourth place behind Scappoose, Seaside and Astoria.

While not a win, the tie did hold some significance as a sign of progression for the Banks program. The Braves have never beaten the Fishermen, though they did tie them once last fall. So two ties in two outings this season is a step forward.

“I felt like they outplayed us the last game, and I think we ... outplayed them this game,” Banks coach Brian Reed said.

Though the game ended in a scoreless draw, it was not for lack of trying by the Braves, who put considerable pressure on the Astoria goal and were a bit unlucky not to score.

Freshman forward Lauren Hill had perhaps the best look of the match not long before the halftime whistle sounded. The diminutive freshman forward found herself with the ball at her feet and just Astoria goalkeeper Katie Russell to beat. But Russell was up to the task, charging off of her line to cut off the angle and getting enough on the ball to send it over the end line for a corner kick.

Banks had several cracks at the goal in the second half, too. One of the best chances came courtesy of Cassie Streblow, whose chip shot from distance on the left side just cleared the crossbar. The Braves also had several dangerous crosses and free kicks, but they could not capitalize on their possession.

“We dominated that whole game on our side,” senior captain and defender Lauren Birr said. “That goal was just not liking us today, just nothing would go in.”

In the second half, Astoria got a decent look from Taylor Mickle, who wound up with the ball after a poor kick by Dotson. Mickle sent a shot to the near post, but fortunately it hit off the side netting. The Fishermen also had some flurries in their final third late in the match but could not seriously challenge Dotson and the Banks backline.

“Overall, I thought they did a really good job of shifting and finding the right marks and doing the right things and reading play,” Reed said of his defenders, Birr, Adrianna Moore-Denslinger, Katie Lyda and Rachel Nikolaus. “I thought they played really well.”

The match marked the third clean sheet of the season for the Braves, as well as the third time they failed to find the back of the net.

The stalemate set up a key showdown on Tuesday against Seaside, another side against whom the Braves are still searching for their first victory. Results were not available at press deadline.

Banks dropped a 2-0 result to the Seagulls on the road on Oct. 1. A win on Tuesday would keep alive the possibility of Banks catching Astoria for third place in the league and a state play-in game berth.

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