Giandonato’s cool leads Central past Grand Valley
Twelve minutes into the second half, Teresa Giandonato showed Grand Valley how dangerous she is from long range.
The Central High School junior blasted a shot from 35 yards away that rattled the goal’s frame when it slammed into the middle of the crossbar. Six inches lower, and she would have given the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
Three minutes, 25 seconds into overtime, Giandonato showed Grand Valley how dangerous she is from much closer range.
Grand Valley was called for a foul in the box during a scramble after a corner kick, and Giandonato got the call to take the penalty kick. She drilled a low shot into the right corner to give Central a 2-1 win in nonleague girls soccer Thursday at Long Family Park.
The win was the third in a row for the Warriors (3-2), who surpassed their win total from last season.
Giandonato said she won the right during the preseason to be Central’s first option on penalty kicks, and she was surprised by how calm she was before the overtime kick.
“I was thinking, ‘Just like practice.’ That’s all I thought about, putting it in,” she said. “I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn’t, no butterflies or anything.”
Warriors coach Jacob Pingel wasn’t surprised.
“Teresa is always that one player who keeps her cool no matter what’s going on around her,” he said. “She doesn’t get overwhelmed by the moment.”
The win was satisfying for the Warriors for multiple reasons.
Besides getting win No. 3 after going 2-11-2 a year ago, Central was glad to finally get a win over Grand Valley. The Cardinals had beaten the Warriors in their previous two meetings.
Central also continued to play aggressively on offense, a new approach after intentionally packing in its defense a year ago to keep games close. The Warriors scored three goals in 15 games last season. They have 11 goals through five games this season.
After a scoreless first half Thursday, freshman Rylea Rottman gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead three minutes, 15 seconds into the second half. She rifled a shot into the chest of Cardinals goalie Erin Schuckers, and when the ball hit the ground, it rolled around Schuckers and into the goal.
Grand Valley was playing its first game of the season because its game Tuesday against Moffat County was postponed because of snow. Cardinals coach Scott Gregory wished his team could have played that game to get ready for Central.
Still, Gregory, in his first year as Grand Valley’s coach, has a veteran group that won a state playoff game and finished 13-3-1 year ago, and the Cardinals opened the game strong.
“Man, they came out as hard as they could,” Pingel said of the Cardinals.
Grand Valley didn’t tie the game, though, until the 65th minute, when senior Ashlynn Speakman converted a penalty kick.
The final few minutes of regulation and overtime then revealed again how different the Warriors are this year. They just missed scoring on several good opportunities to close regulation, then took charge immediately in the extra session.
“My girls, they fought their hearts out,” Pingel said. “When it came down to who wanted it more, you saw who was taking all of the shots.”