by Richard Creaser
copyright the Chronicle 10-15-2013
ORLEANS — Solid defense and timely scoring propelled the home team Rangers to a 2-0 win over the visiting Richford Rockets on Tuesday afternoon. The win lifts the Lake Region squad to an impressive 11-2 on the season. The success the Rangers have enjoyed this season is easily explained, Coach Brad Urie said.
“Leadership,” Coach Urie said as he spoke of his team’s five seniors. “The attitude on this team has been great. The effort has been great and the example has been great and it all starts with these young ladies here.”
The ability of his seniors to run traffic control during the game has been instrumental in the team’s success, Coach Urie said. With so many young players on the team, the leadership exhibited by his seniors has helped mold a relatively young team into a cohesive squad, he said.
“It starts with our defense and runs through the midfield and on to my strikers,” Coach Urie said. “Tyrah [Urie] provides a lot of offense but we can score from anywhere. You need to watch out for all of our strikers.”
Tyrah Urie’s speed provided the junior forward with multiple opportunities in the first half alone. Her ability to dissect an opponent’s defense creates opportunities for both herself and her teammates.
Learning how to read a team’s defense helped create many of the opportunities that the Rangers had on Tuesday. One such opportunity came from a careful study of Rockets’ keeper Gabby Coons.
“She was very aggressive on the ball but had trouble holding on to it,” Ranger Katie Menard said after the game. “I knew that if we could keep the pressure on a chance would come. We just had to be ready when it happened.”
That moment came as Coons rushed out of her net to charge a lob from Ranger Tori-Lynne Adams. Coons misjudged the slide, and Adams popped a ball in front of the crease where Menard lay waiting. A soft nudge from Menard and the Rangers went up 1-0 with 14:36 to play in the first half.
Menard’s goal would prove the ultimate winner though Tyrah Urie scored on a well-placed chip shot from Kiana “Pepper” Royer with 29:32 remaining in the game to seal the win.
“I give credit to Richford’s keeper for a really good game,” Coach Urie said of Coons’ performance. “But I also have to give credit to Jordyn [Cowles] for playing a great game. If we continue to get the kind of effort we got from Jordyn and our D, we’re going to win games.”
The variety of offensive and defensive talent on the Rangers squad puts a lot of pressure on their opponents, Coach Urie said. The ability to quickly transition the ball from the defensive zone into the midfield is critical to generating scoring chances.
“We’ve got Karamae Hayman-Jones and Megan Menard turning some beautiful plays in the middle,” Coach Urie said. “They’re super-sophomores and have continued to develop as players all season long. In fact, the whole team has and I think that’s why we’re 11-2.”
Though the Rangers have assured themselves of a playoff berth with one game remaining in the regular season, this is not a time to rest on the season’s success. Friday’s season finale at Hazen will be instrumental in determining the Rangers’ playoff ranking.
“We could finish as low as fifth or as high as second depending on how we do and how the teams around us finish up,” Coach Urie said. “The really nice thing about this team is that they are motivated to win. I don’t have to encourage them to win, they do that on their own.”
With Harwood, Milton and Mt. Abraham close behind the Rangers and only Mill River ahead, securing a higher seeding could make a huge difference in how many home games Lake Region hosts.
With the playoffs rapidly approaching, a late injury to Katie Menard caused a scare during Tuesday’s game. Menard hyperextended her knee on a drive to the net and went down in obvious pain. Fortunately, she was able to walk by game’s end and downplayed the injury.
“I think it was more of a scare,” she said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to play on Friday.”
The loss of Menard for the playoffs would be a serious blow to the team, Coach Urie said. Fortunately, the team has enough depth that if Menard isn’t at 100 percent on Friday, he has the option to sit her out and get her rested up for the playoffs, he said.
“If I need to sit her Friday, I need to sit her,” Coach Urie said. “But I would like her ready for next week. She adds an important dimension to our attack.”