Chrisman drubs Oak Park in first game in nearly two years

By Michael Smith
The Examiner

After the 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19, members of the William Chrisman girls soccer team were eager for the season opener at home against Oak Park Monday.

One of those was senior midfielder Raigan Keltner, who also missed half of the 2019 season because of a concussion. She was a part of an explosive Bears offense that ended the game with 15 minutes left in regulation during a 8-0 victory against the Oakies.

Keltner and sophomore Cameron Wells led the Bears (1-0) with two assists each. Wells, sophomore midfielder J’Lea Berry and sophomore forward Karis Ramel had two goals apiece to power the offense.

“It feels amazing to be back,” Keltner said. “We haven’t played a game in such a long time and it feels so good. I love the energy and competition. I have an appreciation for it all.”

For the players and the coaches, there was no concern about being rusty after an almost two-year layoff.

“We were all excited to play after a two-year break,” first-year Chrisman coach Justin Schmidt said. “We talked to the girls before and we didn’t want to feel each other out. We wanted to come out and act like we haven’t been gone this whole time.”

And that’s exactly what Chrisman did from start to finish, controlling possession throughout. It went into halftime with a 6-0 lead as Wells and Berry scored two goals each to lead the way. Junior forward Emma Gervy and freshman midfielder Elliot Cotter added one goal apiece.

“Talking was key,” Wells said, “and so was our movement off the ball.”

The Bears finished the game off when Wells’ shot was deflected by Oak Park goalkeeper Riley Humphries, but Ramel buried the rebound in the net in the 46th minute. Ramel later scored the walk-off shot when she made a close-range goal after a lob pass from Berry.

This year’s Chrisman squad will be young as there are only two seniors on varsity and three juniors. But the offensive firepower is still there as was displayed on Monday.

“We have speed and good chemistry up top,” Keltner said. “We haven’t all played together on the high school team, but we have played together in club or middle school. We still have chemistry.”

A blowout victory to open the season was an ideal start for the Bears, but Schmidt said the team will have to refocus when it plays Center Tuesday.

“We have confidence but we still have things we need to work on for when we play teams in our district and when we play tougher teams down the road,” Schmidt said. “It’s always good to get that first victory, but as I told the girls, it all starts over tomorrow. We have to be focused and be ready to play well.”