By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa girls soccer team suffered a 1-0 loss to Indianola Friday at Eric Wertheim Field.
The deficit, however, would have been much worse if it weren't for Averi Cash's excellent play at goalie. Cash stayed perpetually busy throughout, making save after save after save. While many of those saves were routine because the Bulldog defense did a yeoman's job of forcing the Indians to take their shots on goal from 30 to 35 yards out, this was not always the case.
"Every game I come up with a new goal and obviously saving as many goals as possible is always my No. 1 goal," Cash said.
For Cash, it was a complete reversal from the previous game against Des Moines North -- Ottumwa won 4-0 -- where she saw virtually no action at goal because of the Polar Bears offensive woes.
"Actually, I like the action," Cash said when asked which type of game she preferred. "I like having to stay on my toes because as a goalie you can go 45 minutes without touching the ball and then within in an instant a ball can be coming. So the really relaxed games can sometimes be even more difficult because you have to stay mentally up."
Aside from Cash's exploits at goalie, defender Ginny Kjer had a monster game. Her jersey, which was caked with mud after the game, was indicative of the effort she exerted on the field. Time and time again, Kjer kept the Indians from getting an open shot on Cash right in front of the Bulldogs goal by booting the ball out of harms way. And, as a whole, Ottumwa played well defensively as a team, specifically when it came to marking Indianola's players when they were near the Bulldog goal -- this led to the the Indians making a number of cross passes from the corners that never found a recipient in front of the goal.
"We don't always have to steal the ball right away, we just need to take away their options," Ottumwa girls soccer coach Brett McKenzie said. "A lot of their shots came from 35 yards out and that's OK. We will let them shoot from 30 to 35 yards out the whole game. Averi was very comfortable making those saves."
The Indian's only goal came near the end of the first half. Although the goal was credited to Elise Askelsen, it looked like it may have deflected off one of the Bulldogs. Ottumwa's offense got a lot of runs early in the first half, but was nonexistent for much of the second half.
"They [Indianola] stepped it up the second half, definitely," Ottumwa's Veronica Gonzalez said. "The first half we had a lot of runs and we had a few really good shots but we just couldn't finish and get them inside the goal."
Indianola 1, Ottumwa 0
India 1 0 — 1
Ottu 00 — 0
Indianola — Elise Askelsen goal, 37:48.