Girls soccer | Lindsay Martinez penalty kick carries Lakewood Ranch by rival Braden River

jdill@bradenton.comNovember 22, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lindsay Martinez feels the pressure that comes with taking a penalty kick.

But the Lakewood Ranch senior doesn't succumb to the nerves.

Rather, she keeps her head down and sticks to her game plan.

On Thursday, Martinez converted a crucial penalty kick in the 68th minute to lift the hosts past Braden River 1-0 in a Class 4A-District 11 match.

"You want to score for the fans and for your team, so it's a lot of pressure," Martinez said. " ... I usually always pick one side and that's what I stick to."

The goal lifted Ranch (7-0-1, 6-0-1) into first place in the district, while handing the Pirates (7-1-2, 5-1-2) their first defeat.

It was also the Mustangs' eighth shutout in eight match

es.

But to keep that tight defensive effort intact Thursday, the Mustangs needed to withstand a strong effort from the visitors in the first half.

Then Ranch made some adjustments to combat losing the 50/50 balls in the first period, before controlling the midfield and possessing the ball to create chances in the final third of the pitch.

"What we did very well in the second half was winning more air balls to where we're controlling the ball," Ranch head coach Guy Virgilio said.

However, Braden River, which played the Mustangs to a 0-0 draw earlier this season, wasn't giving in to Ranch's attacking pressure.

That is until a handball was called 13 minutes from time inside the penalty box, which set up Martinez' right-footed effort into the right side of the net as Braden River's talented keeper, Kat Elliott, stood still.

"She's not any goalkeeper, she's a really good one so that adds more pressure," Martinez said. "When I took the shot, I didn't even see what she did because I am focused on where I am putting it."

Braden River's attack was limited due to the central defending provided by Ranch's Juliana Guida and Martinez, who has filled in from her normal midfield role due to an injury to the back four this season.

That meant the Pirates' potent forward combination of Kayla Gray and Carly Provan were blocked out from linking up from Braden River's midfield.

Consequently, the limited chances in the attacking third -- Braden River had just six shots (four on target) in the match -- stemmed from the inability to possess the ball against quality opposition like Ranch.

It's something the Pirates will look to improve on.

"We need to possess the ball better if we're going to get past teams like this," Braden River head coach Don Engelberger said.

"Our touches weren't there. We need to have better touches and we have to have better possession."

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