ASHLAND - In losses this season, the Lakeland Union High School girls' soccer team has struggled at the start of games.
In three of its four losses, the Thunderbirds gave up at least two goals in the first half, often early in the game.
Last Thursday, Lakeland traveled to Ashland for the second time this season, looking to avenge an earlier loss, but the old trend cropped up once again as the Oredockers scored just 1:19 into the game en route to a 3-0 Great Northern Conference win.
"The first half they scored a really quick one and we started out really slow," LUHS head coach Stephanie Hartzheim said. "The second half we started to pick it up, but they got a (penalty kick), which was a bummer. The second half we were right there with them."
Getting the first goal of the game is imperative in any situation, but getting the first goal so early steals the momentum from the jump.
It also didn't help when Ashland tacked on a second goal less than 15 minutes from halftime to take a 2-0 lead.
"I don't know if that's if we travel or when we travel, but we get off the bus and we start slow," Hartzheim said. "Then they shake it off in the second half and they're ready to play but that's just too late to come into the game when we didn't have that many opportunities to score."
Lakeland's second problem was a lack of ball possession in the first half.
The T-Birds only had two shots on goal during the entire game. While the second half was more evenly played, they still weren't able to generate scoring chances.
"We were sitting back more on defense and we had some people marking up one-on-one," Hartzheim said. "The girls weren't pressuring together, so we were playing more defensively and (Ashland) had their back four wide open just to play keep away and we ended up chasing the ball a lot."
Goalkeeper Clair Kaminiski made 16 saves for Lakeland (3-5-1, 2-2 GNC), which gets to rest up for a GNC match at Medford today at Stetsonville Elementary, beginning at 5 p.m.
The T-Birds return home for another GNC game on Thursday against Northland Pines at 7 p.m.
Nick Sabato may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NickSabatoLT.