URBANA — After playing Urbana to a scoreless tie over 100 minutes Tuesday night, the Walkersville girls soccer team wasn’t feeling empty-handed.
“This is the first time we have tied them or gotten any sort of result,” Lions coach Paul Bryan said. “We have been good a few times, but we just never put games together. Tonight, they bought into working hard, and it paid off.”
The Lions (2-0-1) leaned heavily upon goalkeeper Jazzmin Salters, a senior and four-year starter, as Urbana (3-0-1) dominated possession and generated the majority of the scoring chances.
“It’s the first time we have shut them out,” Salters said. “Ever since my freshman year when we played them and we lost 2-0, I was kind of upset about that. I didn’t want that to happen again. Then, sophomore year it was 3-0. Last year, it was 1-0. So, this year, I wanted to end my high school career with a shutout.”
Salters’ counterpart, Grayson Jons, the senior goalkeeper for Urbana, was also up to the task, as she turned aside a couple of prime scoring opportunities for Walkersville’s speedy striker, Kasie Ogwulu.
“We are not as experienced as we have been in the back, and I knew there was going to be some dangerous times there,” Urbana coach Keith Bauer said. “Grayson came up very big twice. You know it’s always going to be a difficult game with [Walkersville]. Paul always has them ready to play.”
Both team are still trying to find their way in this early stage of the season after losing key contributors to graduation.
Walkersville, which reached the Class 2A championship game last season, is trying to compensate for the loss of center back and All-Area Defensive Player of the Year Chidera Ogwulu.
“I think we grew up a lot [tonight],” Bryan said. “We are right where we need to be right now. I feel good about where we are at and where we are headed.”
Urbana, meanwhile, is trying to overcome the loss of first team All-State midfielder Isabelle Eskay, as well as All-State defender Hannah Gormon and first-team All-Area defender Kaitlyn Steigner.
The Hawks were able to find their scoring touch in their first three games, a 3-1 victory over Damascus, a 1-0 win over Broadneck and a 3-1 victory over Oakdale.
Senior strikers Brianna Skidmore and Riley Johnson were significant contributors on last season’s team, as well as senior midfielder Nyah Savage, a first team All-Area selection last season.
“We have to learn from this,” Bauer said after the tie. “Last year, we did the same thing. We had a tie against [Thomas Johnson]. You know, you just deal with the experience and become better for it.”