by BRYAN EVERSON
If last Wednesday’s game was the result of Eisenhower going in without a plan, it’s scary to think what might happen when they formulate one.
The Eagles looked every bit the dominating bunch that went undefeated last year in the regular season, taking out crosstown rivals Utica in a MAC crossover match at Swinehart Field.
“This is only our third game, so to be honest with you, we had no plan,” Eisenhower coach Mehrdad Nekoogar said. “We went in there, and we’ve lost one game and won one, so we’re playing one game at a time.”
“We just try different formations during our practices, so we just got here and played one of the formations we practiced on. And even though we lost the game before this, the ball really wasn’t [going] in our favor. Today, obviously the girls played good and were able to place the ball in the goal. And that’s what I’m expecting them to do; they need to play hard every game.”
Less than three minutes in, Utica appeared lucky to escape a penalty when one of its defenders appeared to have launched a challenge that brought senior midfielder Gabriala Jodzis to her knees within the 18-yard box, but officials ruled it clean.
Still, it wouldn’t be long before Ike’s star midfielder made her mark. The Michigan State commit worked the ball from center midfield up to Lauren DeBeau, who used a half-turn and swung a shot across her body that forced a diving attempt left by Utica goalkeeper Kaley Brenizer that altered the course of the ball, but ultimately found its way into the net just over six minutes in.
Under two minutes later, Jodzis served in a cross from the right side that forced Brenier to try and disrupt, but DeBeau once again found her way onto the other end and played the role of poacher with a sure finish from inside 10 yards to make it 2-0 in favor of the Eagles.
“Right away, I don’t want to say it’s not us prepared, but physically the girls didn’t perform at the level they needed to right off the bat,” Utica coach Dave Moran said. “When you get scored on early — in the Adams game, we came back and scored right afterward and got back in it — we just can’t give up the second goal in the short amount of time that we did.”
“You can’t give a player like [Jodzis] the gap to do what she does. It’s why she’s going where she’s going, because she can create, and then you have a player on the other end [in DeBeau] who finishes up what doesn’t go back in the net for her. That’s smart soccer.”
The Chieftains looked briefly as if they were going to slice the deficit in half when freshman Ari Jalics was finally able to establish some effective build-up in the final third with some calm control on the ball, but a pass threaded diagonally behind the line to teammate Maddy Motloch was ruled offside with 28:30 on the clock.
“They knew what we had as far as Ari,” Moran said. “Every time she got on the ball, you heard ‘double her’. They were putting two players on her, and it was a matter of finding players off her once she got onto it and [drew in two defenders] and played players through, and that’s kind of where we made adjustments in the second half.”
Eisenhower’s third goal came on the other side of the break, and courtesy again of DeBeau. The sophomore completed her hat trick by getting a boot to the ball falling away from the net following a service from the right side just three minutes into the second half.
Youth was served again when freshman Meike Ingles drove in a volleyed strike from close range via a corner kick to stretch the Eagles’ lead to 4-0 with 30:31 remaining.
Jodzis finally did some scoring of her own with under 20 minutes left when she received the ball courtesy of a short corner and uncorked a shot from 25 yards out from left-center that went into the back of the net untouched to the left of Brenizer.
“I would say she’s probably, right now, the best player in the state, no question,” Nekoogar said. “She made the Dream Team last year, and as far as her individual skills and everything else, she’s probably the best player out there.”
Ike followed up the victory with two more massive wins this week, defeating Dakota 6-1 and Grosse Pointe 8-1 to move to 4-0-1 on the year. Utica suffered a 2-1 defeat at Anchor Bay on Wednesday night, dropping its record to 3-3-1.