HUDSON—Bad bounces doomed the Croatia Juniors in a 4-1 road loss to the Cleveland Ambassadors in Women’s Premier Soccer League action at Memorial Stadium on Thursday.
The Juniors worked efficiently and played solid defense but fell victim to a few cruel circumstances in the defeat.
“The way the ball bounced against us is the craziest ever, it really is,” said Croatia Juniors head coach Drago Dubmovic. “The girls are just competing and we are looking beautiful. We’re doing so many good things but these bounces are just punishing us.”
Croatia’s misfortunes began early as Ella Deevers (Streetsboro) fielded a ricochet and buried it into the back of the net in the fourth minute that gave the Ambassadors a 1-0 lead.
That lead held for 15 minutes until Hallie Krzys (Berea-Midpark/Wooster College) scored the second goal of her WPSL career to even up the score at 1-1.
Another bad bounce led to Cleveland’s second goal in the 41st minute. Vanessa DiNardo (Strongsville/Cincinnati) was in the right place at the right time to punch in the go-ahead goal.
Olivia Jarrell (St. Augustine (Fla.)/Columbus State) scored in the 62nd minute and Haley Anspach (Medina/Miami (Ohio) closed out the scoring with her goal in the 81st minute.
“On a clearing, the ball hit a player and the ball bounced straight to the open forward to score,” Dumbovic said. “That’s like one in a thousand, but it happened to us very often this year. Some of the goals that are scored on us are really crazy.”
Krzys and Ella Hadley (Lake Catholic/Akron) fired off shots at close range late in the game but the Juniors couldn’t cut into Cleveland’s lead.
“We’re working very hard for our goals and the effort is outstanding,” Dumbovic said. “We’re really starting to get an identity and we looked very sharp. We do have to control the ball a little bit better. We had some interceptions we shouldn’t have. When you’re a new team, it doesn’t matter what sport, the bounces never go your way. You have to earn that right to have the ball bounce your way.”
With the loss, the Juniors dropped to 0-5 but Dumbovic is pleased with his team’s progress in its first year of WPSL play.
“We try not to look at the scoreboard,” he said. “I want to see if we’re getting better and getting a chemistry and we are. We’re putting everybody into a situation to succeed and to get ready for their college season and regroup in between to get ready for the next year.”
Croatia travels to Detroit on Saturday for a 6:00 p.m. showdown against Motor City FC.