An early defensive mistake put Independence in an early hole but Jen Wisniewski scored a pair of goals and Marissa Artrip added another to lead the No. 2 Blue Devils to a 3-1 come-from-behind win over visiting No. 9 Columbia in a Division III sectional final on Wednesday.
“It was nice,” said Independence head coach Bryan Less of the comeback win. “I told the girls the point of the playoffs is to survive and move on and we scored more goals than they did. That’s the bottom line.”
The Raiders struck first when the Raiders intercepted an Independence defender’s pass and found the net early in the game.
“We didn’t come out great,” Less said. “We gave up goal like six minutes in when we had a turnover in the defensive third. It was a pass that didn’t get connected.”
The Blue Devils, who improved to 10-6-1 overall, tied the game just past the midway point of the first half when Wisniewski banged in a deflected ball. Wisniewski’s second goal came about six minutes later.
“It was 1-0 for a long time before Jen scored with about 16 minutes left in the first half,” Less said. “It was a ball down the right side. We had a nice cross and the goalie tipped it and Jen put it in. The second one, Jasmine (Harb) passed it to her and she was one-on-one with the goalie.”
Artrip’s goal came on a free kick in the second half after Ashley Henderson was knocked down in the box.
“Henderson had a great game,” Less said. “She was menace all night. I thought it was her best game in two years. She got taken down in the box and I had Artrip take the free kick.”
Independence controlled possession and dominated the attack in the second half.
The Blue Devils had multiple shots but couldn’t add to its lead.
“In the last 15 minutes of the game Jen, Halle (Dorko) and Ashley put one shot after another on the keeper,” Less said. “We probably had 10 or 12 corner kicks too. We pushed the ball wide. We did a lot of good stuff. The score was 3-1 but I think Columbia had maybe one or two shots in the second half.”
Less credit his defense, especially Artrip, Ellie Clymer and Christa Zubic, for playing a solid game in front of goalkeeper Krista DeFini, who recorded three saves.
“I thought the defense played really well,” Less said. “I thought they did a great job, especially Artrip. I put the onus on her that if she felt either of her tow outside defenders were under pressure to call for them. Ellie Clymer and Christa Zubic did a great job. All three of them played 80 minutes and did a terrific job.”
The Blue Devils will play the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 3 Wellington and No. 5 Trinity on Oct. 20.