DANVILLE — Unlike basketball, there is no extra points for scoring from distance in soccer.
A goal from 1 foot away from net is worth the same as one from 40 feet.
The Danville girls soccer team came to that realization at halftime of Thursday’s Big 12 Conference match against the Urbana Tigers at Ned Whitesell Field.
“We had a lot of chances early that we didn’t take advantage of,’’ said Danville coach Chris Griffin. “We needed to block out our crowd. Their goal keeper (Alyssa Pankau) was coming out of her net a little bit and every time we got the ball, our fans started screaming and yelling. We were 40 yards out and we don’t have a player with the leg strength on this turf to hit a 40-yard shot.’’
Those missed opportunities and a couple of defensive miscues in the game’s first 40 minutes found the Vikings trailing 2-1 at halftime.
But, in the second half, Danville made the right adjustments as the Vikings scored four times on their way to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers.
“We talked at halftime and the girls did a really good job of recognizing where they were on the field and recognizing their positions,’’ Griffin said. “It’s taking advantage of our opportunities and not trying to make opportunities out of things that are not there.
“We had a lot of possession in the attacking third, but we continued to try to score from 40 yards out. In the second half, we got chances inside of the 18 (yard box) and you are going to score more often inside the 18 instead of from 40 yards out.’’
Danville sophomore Ava Towne, who played a key role in two of the Vikings four second-half goals, said the teamwork played key factor in the come-from-behind victory.
“We were aggressive and ready to play from the start, but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities in the first half,’’ Towne said. “In the second half, our aggressive level went up, but we were also anticipating better and we executed better on the offensive end.’’
The go-ahead goal for the Vikings (1-1 overall, 1-0 in the Big 12) came on a perfectly executed play.
Danville midfielder Clara Graham got it started when she pressed up on defense and forced a turnover, getting the ball to Towne outside of the 18-yard box.
Instead of taking the shot from distance like the Vikings did in the first half, Towne played the ball forward to Natalie Porter, who got a touch on it, playing the ball to Emma Martin for the 1-time shot from near the penalty spot for an easy goal, giving Danville a 3-2 lead with 33 minutes left in the contest.
“We did everything we talked about at halftime on that goal,’’ Griffin said. “Ava got the ball and instead of taking a shot from the top of the box, she played it to Natalie who got it to Emma Martin.
“Neither Ava nor our center midfield (Graham) will get any credit on the scoresheet, but their play made that goal possible.’’
Towne, a sophomore, pointed out that Thursday’s victory was not only the first this season for Danville, but it was the first for all of the sophomores and freshman on the Vikings roster.
“Last year was really tough,’’ she said. “Everyone missed out on that year of practicing and playing.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect going into this season, but all of us are working hard, trying to get better every day.’’
Thursday was also the first victory for Griffin as the girls coach after 111 victories in 10 years with the Danville boys soccer program from 2008-2017.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve coached and I forgot how intense I can get as a coach on the sideline,’’ Griffin said. “I can’t step on the field, but I try to do everything I can to put these girls in a position to win.
“To girls credit, we made some adjustments at halftime and the girls played extremely well.’’
Danville freshman Lily Kelly finished with three goals for the Vikings and she has now scored four times in their first two games.
“Lily is a very opportunistic player,’’ Griffin said. “She gets herself in good positions often for scoring opportunities.’’
The other goal for the Vikings came from Aniya Parker to tie the game at 2-2 in the opening three minutes of the second half.
Danville keeper Xitlally Bonilla had eight saves in the victory.