Aberdeen played a smart, all-around game en route to a 3-0 shutout victory over Shelton on Thursday at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
The Bobcats (4-2 overall, 3-2 2A Evergreen) played patient when needed — controlling the midfield led by the heady play of co-captains Marina Marll and Aman Cheema — and aggressive in open space by utilizing the speed of forwards Maddi Gore and Annie Troeh.
For the vast majority of the first half, Aberdeen’s control in the midfield led to many a scoring chance in the Shelton half of the field.
After several scoring chances fell by the wayside, Aberdeen broke through in the 26th minute when Gore made a run down the sideline deep into the Shelton third of the field and sent a cross toward the front of the Shelton goal.
Cheema, who was wide open in front of the Shelton goal, collected the ball and blasted a high shot that ricocheted off the top crossbar and in for a 1-0 lead.
“After all those shots we were missing, we were saying, ‘None of our shots are going in,’” Gore said of the Bobcats frustrations having so much offensive success early in the game, but nothing on the scoreboard to show for it. “I feel like most of the time we are just shooting so fast that we just needed that one break and that one goal to just get us going.”
In the second half, Aberdeen’s patience paid off once again when Gore sent a perfectly-timed through pass toward the fleet-footed Troeh. The junior forward slotted a shot past oncoming Shelton keeper Taylin Vandyke for a 2-0 lead in the 54th minute.
The Bobcats would put the game away in the 73rd minute on a Gore goal off an assist from Cheema to give Aberdeen its third league victory and second shutout of the season.
Aberdeen’s combination of playing poised with the ball to create lightning-fast attacks has been a strategy Bobcats head coach Larry Fleming said he and his coaching staff have been working on this season.
“At halftime, we talked about that when you are in a hurry you are losing control of the ball and playing right into their hands,” he said. “Let’s get it wide and take it to the end line. We had some great crosses, it’s too bad we couldn’t get more (players) on the ball. … We just have to get more aggressive that way and we’re starting to learn how to put it in the net.”
Due to the ability of Aberdeen midfielders to control possession, the Bobcats defense — led by co-captain Aili Scott — thwarted the small handful of offensive opportunities the Highclimbers were able to muster in the match.
Aberdeen keeper Dominique Trevino had to make just one save in the game on a bouncing free kick in the first half.
“We were 1-0 for so long that (Shelton) was still in the game,” Fleming said, addressing his defense’s performance. “You can’t go all-or-nothing and give them a chance to score. We were pretty smart. … We played with effort and it was a good win.”
Gore said the improvement from earlier in the season to now is noticeable.
“Since we’ve started the season, I feel like we’ve become better with our passing and we’re listening and doing a lot better than we first started,” she said. “I feel like it’s going good and we’ve got a lot better.”
“Our combination passing, especially in the second half, was so good tonight,” Fleming said, noting the team’s improvement this season. “Even from the beginning of the season, this is much better. … Now we’re giving each other multiple options instead of just hitting it up and hoping we can run on to it.”
Aberdeen takes on Centralia at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Tiger Stadium.