|Winning Streak Hits Nine for Bluebirds Against Arch-Rivals|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. Highlands senior defender Greta Noble throws the ball in against Newport Central Catholic on Monday. Noble had an assist in the 3-0 Highlands win.|
The arch-rivals hung around for nearly 50 minutes.
But once the first goal came, the Highlands Bluebirds girls soccer team (9-1-2 overall) started rolling. They added two more to defeat the 36th District rival Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds, 3-0 Monday at Tower Park. That is the eighth shut-out for the Bluebirds.
Highlands has beaten NewCath nine times in a row. The Thoroughbreds last beat the Bluebirds, 2-1 at Tower Park in the 36th District championship on Oct. 15, 2015.
"I think we tried to play our best confidently as a team and not selfishly," said Margo Brandenberger, Highlands junior forward. "That really helps with confidence and doesn't let your emotions get to you on the field. It is a good rivalry game."
Highlands finished with 23 shots including 14 on goal. NewCath (5-7) had five. Senior goalkeeper Jasmine Rehberger made one save in the first half and junior Meg Gessner made three in the second half for the Bluebirds.
"The defense did a great job staying focused. I know the defense obviously wants some goals on the board for us," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "When it doesn't happen, they have a little bit more pressure. They handled that pretty well. They didn't give up too many chances. When they did, we stayed patient and we played smart because if they put a goal in, we were probably in trouble because we weren't capitalizing on our opportunities. If they put one in, they probably get more confidence and they probably pack it in."
The Bluebirds wound up with nine corner kicks and one free kick compared to two corner kicks for NewCath. Both teams had one foul each and no yellow or red cards. Highlands junior defender Jade Rehberger took the corner kicks and free kicks.
Dean credited NewCath sophomore goalkeeper Sofia Rodriguez for making a number of great saves. She made a lot of saves with solid angles.
Highlands junior midfielder Faith Broering had two goals. The first one came on a Laney Smith throw-in with 31:30 left in the game. The second one came with 21:11 left in the game when she finished a shot after senior defender Kelsey Listerman's shot was deflected following a Jade Rehberger corner kick.
Smith scored her team-high 11th goal of the season with 26:44 left in the first half. Senior defender Greta Noble crossed the ball into the attacking zone. The ball deflected off junior forward Chloe Bramble to Smith for the score.
"We've been growing with our ball-possessions," Dean said. "Ball movement leads to opportunities. (In) other games, you're going to put those in. We didn't really do a good job putting them in (Monday). We're going to work on that. It was good to see."
Smith has 11 goals and four assists on the season for 26 points and Broering has nine goals and five assists for 23 points. But Highlands is far from a two-person scoring show. Fourteen different players have had goals or assists for the Bluebirds. Bramble has three goals and an assist for seven points and freshman forward Claire Cavacini also has three goals this year.
"I think everyone has a lot of potential," Cavacini said. "Putting it all together is what makes us a team. As freshmen, you have to play like you're a senior."
The Bluebirds play host to Conner on Tuesday. Game time is 7 p.m.
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