Josh Perry, Managing Editor
FOXBORO, Mass. – There was the hint of a smile that played across junior forward Ally Steinberg’s face when the second goal found its way to the back of the net, but rather than join in the raucous celebrations of her teammates she immediately followed her shot, grabbed the ball and ran it back to midfield to get the game restarted.
“I’m not one to really celebrate,” said Steinberg after the game.
The Eagles did not need her to celebrate on Monday night, but they did need her in front of goal, as Steinberg scored twice in the final six minutes to steal a point for Sharon in a 2-2 draw with Shepherd Hill at Gillette Stadium.
When asked how it felt to score at Gillette, Steinberg was willing to admit, “It’s pretty awesome.”
Sharon coach Jon Lavien said, “They’ve been a team all year that has put a two-goal deficit between them and their opponent and fought their way back. From the back all the way up, everyone touched the ball and everybody participated.”
The Eagles controlled play for much of the game with the lion’s share of possession and a number of scoring opportunities that they failed to convert. Despite a strong start, it was the Rams that jumped into the lead in the 12th minute.
A long ball to the forward pulled junior Samantha Rabb into the channel where she conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. The kick was played into the middle and Sharon failed to clear with several attempts allowing the ball to fall to Hailey Demers and she looped it over the head of Sharon keeper Natalie Gray.
As if one sucker punch was not bad enough, the Eagles received another just five minutes later when Rebecca Nguyen slipped a through ball between the defenders to Rachel Bianculli and she made no mistake with her finish to make it 2-0.
“We really controlled the play but just didn’t capitalize,” said Lavien. “I think the wider field kind of confused us. You start going wide and it’s really wide and those corners aren’t going where you want them to go.”
In the 18th minute, Alexandra Filipkowski had Sharon’s first shot after Shepherd Hill failed to clear a cross from Rose Wald. It took another 15 minutes before the Eagles would get another chance and this one Steinberg headed onto the roof of the net from five yards out off a Victoria Zambello free kick.
At haltime, Lavien spoke to his team about continuing to play the way that it started and to keep pushing to try and get back into the game. He also reminded the Eagles that this was a unique opportunity that they needed to make count.
“I told them they have 40 minutes to play at Gillette and you won’t get that again so go out there and enjoy it,” said Lavien. “From there we just talked about we were dominating the game but we weren’t finishing and luck wasn’t on our side.”
The Eagles also adjusted the formation, dropping Filipkowski into midfield, Amanda Klayman to the wing, and moving Steinberg up top along with Zambello. The move worked as Sharon attacked time and again and started to look dangerous each time that it went forward.
Zambello was the primary target early in the half and could possibly have had a second half hat trick with a little better luck. In the 52nd minute she ran onto a pass in the middle, cut pat a defender onto her left foot inside the box and fired a low angled shot that seemed certain to cut the lead in half, until Rams freshman keeper Alyssa Trueman somehow got a fingertip to it and kept it out.
Again in the 21st minute, Zambello was denied. This time she flicked a loose ball over the prone Trueman only to have her shot kicked off the line by Julia Dandridge.
“The main focus was really just keep going and no giving up, play as a team, keep connecting the passes,” said Steinberg, who admitted that she was getting frustrated as the Eagles continued to be shutout. “We knew it was coming, so it was just a matter of getting the first one.”
With six minutes remaining, the goal finally came and it was Steinberg that provided the breakthrough. A cross from the right by Alex Miller picked out Steinberg inside the six-yard box and she found the corner to make it 2-1.
Just three minutes later she tied the game. This time it was Zambello who olayed provider with a cross, again from the right, that was whipped in low on the edge of the six. Steinberg needed only one touch to knock it past Trueman and tie the game at 2-2.
“We have a lot of heart,” said the Sharon hero, “even if we don’t always get the result that we want.”
There was still time for another chance to fall to Zambello, but this was not to be her night to get on the score sheet. The junior knocked it over the bar from close range and then had another chance denied by the combination of Trueman and Dandridge in the final minute.
“I think this will be a good catapult for them,” said Lavien. “You always want two points over one point but you don’t ever want to walk away with with no points.”
“You hate to say a tie is great but in this case…look at where we are and they were down a large portion of the game and they came back. I don’t think it gets better than that.”
Sharon (3-5-1, 2-5-0) travels to Taunton on Wednesday night.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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