ZANESVILLE — Lately, the Bulldogs have been in a bit of a rut, win-wise. But their play at Zanesville on Tuesday evening came close to earning them a win against the Blue Devils, who have bedeviled the Athens side for the past few years. Zanesville scored a late goal to match Athens for a 1-1 tie.
Freshman Tess Wilhelm had a breakout night for the Bulldogs. Wilhelm scored the game winner for the junior varsity squad in their 1-0 victory. The freshman also saw significant time in the varsity match, and scored the lone Athens goal in that contest.
Overall, the Bulldogs showed smart passing and aggressive play on the offensive side. Athens was able to win possession and spend the majority of game time in attack mode. They finished with 13 total shots; eight were on goal.
Athens goalkeeper Nikki Bean was challenged by excellent shots from near and far by the Blue Devils, and ended the match with six saves.
The first half ended 0-0, but saw Athens gaining confidence by realizing they could hang with their Division 1 nemesis. As the teams settled into the second half, the Bulldogs found their opening seven minutes in.
Athens is lucky to have multiple players who can really hurl the ball on sideline throw-ins. This time it was Ava Kristofco’s turn as the Bulldogs were attacking on the right side. The throw into the box reached Wilhelm, who shielded the ball from the Blue Devil defenders, turned to find some space, and then pulled a left-footed strike that had no chance of being stopped.
The Bulldogs kept up the attack for the remainder of the match and saw scoring opportunities off of free kicks from distance by Emma Dabelko. Two of which had the Bulldog faithful certain they would see the ball in the net. The Zanesville keeper made a handful of outstanding saves to deny an Athens insurance goal.
Rather than sustained possession attacks on offense, Zanesville relied on quick runs for scoring opportunities. And with five minutes remaining, a long throw-in of their own sparked a goal when a Blue Devil attacker gathered the ball and found space to get through the Athens defense to face Athens’ Bean head on. Bean was in position, but the Blue Devil found the angle to even the score.
Athens’ record is now 5-7-3. Their final regular season game is at Lancaster, Saturday evening.