FARMINGTON – The Farmington Hills Mercy Marlins and Farmington Falcons played to a 2-2 draw Monday night.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Marlins came out strong in the second half. Olivia Engler had a great chance just over a minute after halftime, when she found herself alone against Farmington goalkeeper Alex Thomas, but Thomas made a great save to smother the chance. Mere seconds later, Erica Padula would play a through ball that gave Engler a second chance, and this time she found the far left side of the net to tie the game 1-1 with 38:55 to play in the game.
Engler was a thorn in the side of the Farmington defense the entire second half, making runs at the Falcon defenders and weaving through people to create chances.
“She’s been one of our top offensive threats all season long, but believe it or not that was her first goal,” Mercy co-head coach Tom James said. “She just needed that one, and I think that more are going to come. And it’s at a good time, now that we’re moving into the second half of our league schedule and getting into the district.”
Mercy would take the lead with 33:37 remaining when Padula made a deep run down the right side and fired a cross that found Lindsay Lukomski for an easy tap in and a 2-1 lead.
“It was nice to see some firepower up front from some of our players that have been itching to score. I think they’ve been working hard, and now I think they’ve kind of busted through there and started getting their confidence up,” Marlins co-head coach Tania Macioce said.
Mercy’s offense would pile up 22 total shots for the game, including 15 shots on frame. But a solid defensive effort led by Amanda Exline, and strong goalkeeping from Thomas kept Mercy off the board outside of that one burst early in the second half and allowed the Falcons to rally then hold onto the tie.
Mercy’s lead would not last long as the Falcons would battle back to tie it less than two minutes later when Valdeta Gjokaj was taken down in the penalty area and Nina Smith stepped up to ram home the penalty kick into the top of the net, making it 2-2.
“What I do have is a group of players who won’t stop, who won’t give up, who keep trying,” Farmington head coach Shaun Gray said. “We started slow. We really struggled the first seven minutes (of the second half), I think, and to go 2-1 down was exactly what we deserved. But again, the spirit, the togetherness, the teamwork, they figured it out.”
Farmington had fewer chances, managing just four shots on goal for the game, but they were efficient with the chances they did take.
The Falcons had opened the scoring just 1:55 into the game when Smith chipped a free kick to the top of the penalty area that Madison Thomas took one touch to settle before volleying it into the net for a 1-0 Falcon lead.
“To start the game and score after a minute and a half is nice. It’s rewarding for the girls. I was hoping that we’d go on to score a few more and take the momentum forward in the game. But it didn’t quite work out that way, and Mercy done really well from that point, and they gave us some problems.”
But for the most part, the Marlin defense anchored by Tori Mercier and Reilly Behm were able to cut off the Falcon counter attack and win balls in their defensive end before Farmington could get shots off.
Both teams will be back in league play later this week. Farmington (2-5-2) has a couple of days off before hosting Oxford in an Oakland Activities Association White game on Thursday.
Mercy (3-6-1) has a quick turnaround, traveling to Dearborn Divine Child in a Catholic League game Tuesday night.