However Litteral had the answer on all but one time as she turned away 17 shots on goal — including one bullet fired that she just managed to get the heel of her hand up in time to send the soccer ball skipping harmlessly over the box.
The result was a 1-0 victory for Cartersville in the Region 5-AAA showdown between the two soccer powers this season and an appreciation of Litteral’s skills in goal by Chad Murray, head coach of the Lady Purple Hurricanes.
“She’s the best keeper we’ve seen all year,” Murray said after Cartersville claimed its victory. “They have a fantastic goalkeeper.”
Lance Hall, Adairsville assistant coach, agreed with that assessment.
“She’s one of the best keepers I’ve coached in my 17 or 18 years in coaching,” he said.
Litteral already has recorded six shutouts this year, allowing just two goals by region opponents.
Hall said the save is one even coaches will talk about later on.
“That was a great save using the heel of her hand,” he said. “That’s one of those plays where the coaches say to each other during the game, ‘Did we just see what we thought we saw?’”
Hall also liked the game if not its ending.
“We stood toe to toe with the ninth-ranked team in the state,” Hall said. “We played hard. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We just didn’t get the result we wanted.”
The Lady Canes had gotten their score in the game’s 22nd minute and found a way to nurse that lead the rest of the way through some effective defensive play.
Adairsville, for its part, kept the Lady Canes from adding to their lead the rest of the way, as well.
“It was a real good game,” Murray said. “I thought both teams played well, played their style of soccer. It was tough going in there. We got some shots that we wanted in the first half but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Both teams moved aggressively throughout the contest.
Cartersville’s midfield found ways to thwart many of Adairsville’s attacks in the early going, but the Lady Canes could not close the deal despite some aggressive moves until just past midway in the first half.
That’s when Cartersville struck down the right side of the field of play and Madison Putzer passed to Chloe Davis in the box. After gaining control of the ball, Davis dribbled two steps to the right side and then fired from about 20 yards out just to the left of Litteral, who was rushing toward her, to find net.
Both teams continued to move the ball up and down the court throughout the game.
The Lady Tigers were particularly persistent near the end as they got two shots on goal in the 76th and 77th minutes.
Emily Sexuaer fired the first of those two shots but Cartersville keeper Abby Robinson managed to block it as it neared goal to preserve the Lady Cane victory.
Murray said the victory is important as Cartersville tries to reach its goals this year.
“It gives us one game up in the region and we’re almost through the first round,” he said. “We haven’t played Sonoraville. After we do, we’ll be starting on our second round through the region.”
Murray praised the play of Adairsville but also singled out several Lady Canes for their work.
“Victoria Everhard, our midfield defender, did a bang up job for us,” he said.
He also cited the work of Anna Phillips, midfielder.
“She probably played her best game of the year,” he said. “She played a phenomenal game. That was the best she’s played all year.”
He said Cartersville must work hard if it is to reach its goals this season.
“We have to stay focused and we have to keep our eye on the region title,” he said. “We want to be region champs and from there as far as we can go. We took a good step tonight.”
Adairsville also is still positioned to realize its goals, Hall noted.
“We told the girls our goals are still to make the state playoffs and host a game in the region playoffs,” he said. “All that is still in play. We’ll try to regroup and go forward.”
He said Cartersville provided a stiff test for the Lady Tigers and they did well in many phases.
“We really didn’t know how good we were,” he said. “We hadn’t been tested by a team that passes well and has speed. Now we have.”
He said Adairsville also needs to make some adjustments in its game. “We got the ball in the air too much and need it on the carpet more,” he added.
Adairsville is now 8-1, 6-1 in Region 5-AAA and next plays at Ringgold on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.