BY ADAM PRUIETT
Introductions to soccer don’t get more stark than what Bailey Miller has experienced since joining the Silver Creek girls’ team.
Not only did the Dragons’ sophomore just begin playing the sport this season, she was thrust into goalkeeping duty for the first time in game action on Thursday against visiting Jeffersonville after an injury to junior Hannah Mattingly.
Miller’s time in goal came after spending about an hour total practicing the position — a half hour on Wednesday and once in the summer.
“She is green in every sense of the word,” noted Silver Creek coach Patrick Anderson.
After an early miscue, Miller settled in and the same could be said of the Dragons as a whole.
After Jeff controlled the first 20 minutes, Silver Creek mostly owned the rest of Thursday’s match. However, neither team came out on top, as the Dragons and Red Devils finished the game knotted at 2-2.
As is usually the case when teams play to a draw, both Silver Creek (2-1-2) and Jeff (2-2-2) felt as if the chance to win was squandered.
“I think we played a really hard game tonight. The first 20 minutes we didn’t play our game — we played their game,” said Dragons’ sophomore forward Olivia Scarbrough, who had a goal and an assist. “We had possession of the ball 80 percent of the time, and we should have came out on top. But those first 20 minutes hurt us.”
“We definitely should have played better,” said Devils’ senior midfielder Devan Carrier, who scored both of Jeff’s goals. “Our communication was off a little bit, and we weren’t working together like we normally do.”
There was a distinct contrast in overall play in the two halves. Both teams shot the ball six times before intermission, each connecting twice. Jeff had a four-minute span where it took four unanswered shots after Silver Creek tied the game at one, while the Dragons fired off four consecutive shots in 11 minutes after the Red Devils went up 2-1.
However, in the second half, the teams only attempted one shot apiece, with the first look coming with less than seven minutes remaining in the game. There were few prime scoring chances.
That wasn’t the case in the first half.
Carrier got Jeff on the board in the third minute when she booted a free kick from 25 yards out over Miller. The scoring opportunity came after Miller was called for a handball after touching it outside of the box.
Silver Creek answered five minutes later when Scarbrough delivered a corner kick that was deflected near the right post to junior forward Lora Thompson in the middle just a few yards away from the goal. She had no trouble tying the game.
Jeff mounted several scoring threats over the next few minutes before Carrier found herself open in the center of the field from 15 yards out and whizzed a shot that deflected off the extended arm of Miller and into the goal for a 2-1 lead in the 19th minute.
“Every game we play this year, Devan is never taking a break. She plays the entire game,” Jeff coach Scott Epley said. “She has a sore ankle, and you’d never know it. You won’t find anybody that plays any harder or with more skill on our team than she does. We hope that rubs off.”
After Carrier’s go-ahead goal, Silver Creek ramped up its attack. Jeff didn’t record another shot the rest of the half, and the Dragons got off four. The last came from Scarbrough, who, from the right side, drilled a shot from 35 yards out over a leaping Ashlyn Crane, the Devils’ sophomore goalkeeper, and into the net.
“I knew it had a good chance because I work on it all the time,” Scarbrough said. “I’m thankful to God for the talent he’s given me. I knew that was going to be one of the shots I’d have tonight. Once I hit it, I knew it was in.”
While the first half saw plenty of offensive firepower, defense commanded the second half. Neither team attempted a shot over the first 33 minutes. Both managed one about 30 seconds apart, but failed to connect with a potential game-winner.
On multiple occasions in the first half, Miller dropped to the ground to corral Jeff shots. Crane made a superb diving stop before halftime. Both keepers were busy, with Miller tallying four saves overall and Crane three.
“Bailey did a great job back there, and our whole defense did as well,” Anderson said.
Thursday’s game provided a valuable early-season test for both squads. Silver Creek played to a stalemate with Jeff despite missing three starters, while the Red Devils also saw positive signs moving forward.
“We’re growing,” Epley said of his Devils. “We still have a lot to go. We’re one-third of the way through, so we’ve got two-thirds to build on. As long as we keep going uphill and don’t go downhill, then we’ll be OK.”
“When we play better teams throughout the year, we’re going to have to do more fundamental-type stuff,” Anderson mentioned of his Dragons. “Things aren’t going to be easy. We just have to keep progressing.”
JEFFERSONVILLE 2, SILVER CREEK 2
Jeff 2 0—2
Silver Creek 2 0—2
J — Devan Carrier (unassisted), third min.
SC — Lora Thompson (Olivia Scarbrough), eighth
J — Carrier (unassisted), 19th
SC — Scarbrough, 32nd