sy OHSvUHS girls soccer 1

Oakdale’s Ambrea Gaither (18) and Urbana’s Morgan Sherrill (8) eye the ball Tuesday night in the first half at Oakdale High School. View and purchase sports photos at fnpinfocus.com.

Urbana’s girls soccer team had just been awarded a throw in, prompting Hawks coach Keith Bauer to yell, “Mikayla’s got it.”

Sophomore Mikayla Chahine ran over, grabbed the ball and heaved a long throw-in that, just like a corner kick, sailed near the net to create a scoring opportunity for the Hawks.

“It’s a huge advantage, and we’ve got to take more advantage,” Bauer said. “We’ve got one or two goals off of it this year, and we should have almost one a game, I’ll say, with how many times we throw the ball in there.”

While Chahine didn’t get any assists off her dangerously lengthy throw-ins on Tuesday, she did make sure freshman teammate Morgan Sherrill’s nice corner kick didn’t go to waste.

One-touching the ball with her right foot off Sherrill’s right-to-left corner, Chahine scored the match’s second goal with 20 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half to help the Hawks beat host Oakdale 2-0.

Urbana improves to 3-2. Perhaps that record seems out of place for a team that typically ranks among the county’s best. But considering the circumstances, it’s not so surprising.

Urbana lost a slew of players from last season and, like other county teams, didn’t have much preparation before delving into a season that was delayed and abbreviated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve got 14 players from last year gone, and no preseason,” Bauer said. “We’re just starting to play better. I told the girls, there’s going to be weird scores because no one had a scrimmage.”

Chahine is one of Urbana’s returners. She figured she started about half of last season, but she won’t be seeing much time on the sidelines this year.

“She’s improved over the past year,” Bauer said. “And I can’t have that throw-in off the field, I’ve got to have that throw-in on the field.”

Taking up soccer when she was young, Chahine was inspired to develop a skill in a part of the game that often goes overlooked.

“A long time ago, I saw someone throw it in really far, and I just made it my goal to throw it like that,” she said.

Several times on Tuesday, her throw-ins presented the Hawks with scoring threats. And by now, the attack is used to running to either sideline to make her troublesome tosses.

“When your throw-ins from the 30 on up are actually corner kicks, treated like corner kicks, it’s a huge advantage,” Bears coach Aric Canonico said. “That’s a great skill, and I’m sure that will serve them well as they go forward.”

Urbana took a 1-0 lead when Paige Shaver blasted a 21-yard shot into the net during the 12th minute.

After being forced to defend against the wind in the first half, the Bears (2-3) got some scoring opportunities in the second half. But they couldn’t get the ball past keeper Cassidy Irish.

With 3:25 left, Oakdale’s Reagan Plate hustled to the ball as Irish charged, but the shot — which had to be rushed — went wide left.

“We had three quality chances to get in and didn’t capitalize on them,” Canonico said. “They obviously have a very technical and gifted keeper, that was part of the reason we couldn’t get in.”

Oakdale had just one sub on Tuesday, and that’s one more than it’s had recently.

“I’ve got a bunch of great kids, but I don’t have enough,” Canonico said. “I made no subs in a high school game for the first time in six years the other night.

“We have zero depth, and it’s really hard to do that,” he said. “It’s testing these kids’ character, and we’re rising above so I think in the end, we’ll be better off for it.”

Oakdale won the JV match 2-0.

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