Elkins girls open with win over Bulldogs

MARTINSBURG – Injuries have been a recurring theme throughout the preseason of the Martinsburg girls soccer team.

It didn’t change for the Bulldogs as they opened the season by hosting Elkins Friday afternoon at Cobourn Field.

Four different Martinsburg players were escorted off the field for assorted injuries in the Bulldogs’ 3-0 defeat.

Even Amber Butler, who started and is pretty much the team’s third-team emergency goalkeeper, a senior who volunteered to take over, patrolled the nets with a broken finger.

“We have a lot of people hurt and a lot of people in different positions, so maybe that’s why there were a lot of one-on-ones,” Butler said.

She was pretty much up to the task in facing several one-on-the-goalkeeper situations,

“First of all, I look at different angles to block off their angles,” said Butler, whose team was outshot 21-0.

She kept the game scoreless in the first half, but Isabella Nieves broke the tie by intercepting a goal kick and quickly firing into the left corner of the net five minutes into the second half.

Karli Hopwood made it 2-0 when Butler misplayed her crossing pass into the net about two minutes later.

“After the first one, we got a second one,” Elkins coach Scott Cutright said. “I was impressed that we relaxed and played much simpler ball. We had a purpose.

“We just had to settle down. Toward the end, we did a much better job of relaxed. We played more composed in the second half and got better opportunities.”

It showed when Olivia Underwood took one of the one-on-the keeper opportunities and beat Butler with some two minutes left.

Butler’s play pleased her coach.

“Never being a keeper before, she came in excited to play and came in and filled that role,” Martinsburg coach Meredith Matczak said.

Elkins has just four seniors and five juniors on a predominately young team.

“We had a lot of opportunities we let slip away,” Cutright said.

Martinsburg is pretty young, too.

Several Bulldogs got their first taste of soccer the first day of training camp.

“I just think we watched the beginning,” Matczak said, “and we’re going to go face each challenge to become a better team.”