MAXWELL - A week off did the Collins-Maxwell girls’ soccer team a lot of good.
After getting overwhelmed by Gilbert in their season opener on April 4, the Spartans came out determined against Ballard April 11 in Maxwell.
Collins-Maxwell took advantage of two quick goals midway through the first half and withstood a late Ballard charge to pull off a 3-1 victory.
Last season, the Spartans fell to the Bombers on a last-minute goal. That motivated them to get on the same page and make huge gains following their 10-0 setback to Gilbert in the opener.
“They only had one goal and didn’t score in the last five minutes, so that helps,” Collins-Maxwell forward Caitlyn Bruntz said. “Our first win against Ballard feels really good.”
Ballard had the momentum early, but Collins-Maxwell started to take control 10 minutes into the game.
The Spartans caught a huge break 19 minutes, 55 seconds into the game when they were awarded a penalty kick. Bruntz converted to get her team on the board.
Less than two minutes later Collins-Maxwell struck again, this time with Tori Bienfang finding the net to put all the momentum on the Spartans side.
“This game was about slowing it down and getting our crosses in because against Gilbert we had zero,” Bruntz said. “We really tried to feed the ball better to our forwards, and get those crosses and through balls in.”
Bienfang established herself as a big weapon against the Bombers in just her second varsity start to complement Bruntz, the team’s leading returning scorer from a year ago.
“She’s like a bulldozer,” Bruntz said. “She just plows people over — very aggressive. We need that against teams that are aggressive like Ballard.”
Collins-Maxwell maintained that 2-0 lead at the half. Ballard started putting up a better fight in the second half, but at the 61:29 mark of the game, Bruntz nailed a beautiful cross shot from midrange that made it past Bomber keeper Sierra Knight for a 3-0 Spartan advantage.
Ballard picked up the pace in the final 15 minutes.
Brooke Loewe got the Bombers on the board with 10:09 remaining. The Bombers kept up the pressure the rest of the way, but with keeper Elise Robertson directing traffic for the defense, the Spartans held Ballard scoreless the rest of the way.
“I think communication went way better this time,” Robertson said. “I think we played more together tonight.”
Robertson finished with 12 saves. Both teams had 13 shots on goal.
Collins-Maxwell improved to 1-1 and Ballard suffered its first defeat, dropping to 2-1. After struggling for most of the first 60 minutes, Bomber head girls’ soccer coach Brent Emerson was happy with how his team fought back to make things interesting down the stretch.
“I’ve got to give them a lot of credit, but the good thing for our kids is we really battled the second half,” Emerson said. “We got a lot of shots on goal; we just didn’t get them in the right places. ”This was a good test for us and a good kind of wakeup call to go forward. We’ve got a lot of big games on the horizon.”
Knight made 10 saves at keeper for Ballard. The Bombers must regroup quickly as they travel to Boone tomorrow.
Collins-Maxwell’s next outing is at Grand View Christian next Tuesday.
Collins-Maxwell 3, Ballard 1
B 0 1 - 1
CM 2 1 - 3
CM - Caitlyn Bruntz, 19:55.
CM - Tori Bienfang, 21:01.
CM - Bruntz, 61:29.
B - Brooke Loewe, 69:51.