After falling 4-0 in their first meeting, the Trojans improved their standing with a 4-2 loss Tuesday thanks to a pair of goals by Ellie Fisher.
Fruitport was pleased with their progress as they took a 2-2 tie into halftime despite rampant illness truncating their roster.
“The improvement is good,” said Fruitport head coach Jeannie McClain. “We got two goals, but we came in ready to win. The odds were kind of against us because of some health issues, we have a lot of girls sick right now. But, we wanted to win today.”
Both the Trojans’ goals came in the first half thanks to fast feet by Ellie Fisher, both time receiving long passes over the top of the defense, burning her defenseman on the first touch and converting the one-on-goalie score.
“She is a phenomenal athlete,” McClain said. “She is nice to have up there. She plays 80 minutes every game and is a hard worker.”
The kick-and-chase game is a last resort made more attractive by a quality striker like Fisher chasing down the ball. The obvious pairing of athlete and space was lost on the Rockets, however, as Fisher didn’t play forward in their first meeting. The move has been a late-season revelation for coach McClain in games Fruitport struggles to build possession.
“Usually, when we play someone the first time we can do that over the top to them,” McClain said. “But not the second time. When we played (Reeths-Puffer) the first time she didn’t play up. She is usually a midfielder, but for the last couple of games I have switched her up and she has done that.”
While the Rocket defense was fierce, McClain chalked up the lack of possession time to tired legs and careless passing.
“We are tired,” she said. “That’s the downfall of having a tough schedule. We picked up some tough non-conference games and this time of the year you start to think, ‘Did I want to do that?’ but it gets the girls ready for the district.
“Our passing to the other team is our downfall, I think. It is hard when you have game after game and then you finally get to practice and don’t want to do too hard. But, we have watched film on it and talked about it, we just have to pick our heads up and find the right player, not the other team.”
Fruitport keeper Madalyn Fett was one of the Trojans struggling with illness Tuesday, but willed herself onto the field for a tremendous game in net.
“My keeper is sick. She didn’t come to school yesterday and slept all the way here on the bus,” McClain said. “She is sluggish, but kept us in the game like so many others.
The Trojans and Rockets have one more meeting on the schedule this year coming in the opening round of the district tournament right back at Reeths-Puffer High School on May 23.
“We wanted to get them today, but get one more shot in a week,” McClain said. “We have some things to work on for that game and have to get the girls healthy. A few days ahead will be good for us to rest up. If we make some adjustments on the field and are feeling better, we will give them a run when it really counts.”
In the meantime, Fruitport returns to action tonight vs. Kenowa Hills before taking on Muskegon on Monday.