It's just not quite all there yet with this team.

It could be in the coming weeks, but for the St. Luke's girls soccer squad, a 5-4 home win over Rye Country Day Tuesday afternoon was five steps forward, four steps back.

The team had been waiting for an offensive explosion. It certainly got that against the Wildcats (4-2). But the defense, which has now allowed nine goals in two games, is suddenly in flux.

"A lot of it came from not getting pressure on the ball and allowing Rye to put some dangerous crosses in," Storm head coach Dan Clarke said. "We didn't deal with the crosses very well. We were in position to do so. There were a couple `garbage' goals, if you'd like, where they rebounded off somebody and then off somebody else and into the goal. It was disappointing to give up the type of goals we gave up today."

Caroline Parsons bailed on the team's defense, as she scored the game-winning goal with 8:13 remaining. The score came spontaneously, as Parsons quickly peeled off a shot from a few yards inside the left part of the penalty area. Her ever-rising shot sailed past Wildcats senior goalie Devon Kraus. From there, the defense held on.

"Caroline has got that ability where she can pull something special out at any point," Clarke said. "It was the fourth goal where her and Ally just combined straight down the middle of the field and got us the lead up to go 4-2."

St. Luke's led 3-1 at the half after Parsons and Allie Young combined on two of the three strikes. Rye Country Day's Jenna Frank was able to the Storm's Lindsay Bralower with 18:17 remaining in the first half. Frank then sent the shot into the left wall of the net, tying the game at 1 on her shot from 18 yards out.

It was the only Wildcats goal that was scored more than five yards from St. Luke's keeper Megan Flood.

The 5-3 Storm, however, had a number of quick strikes, like the Parsons-to-Young one-timer with 4:43 remaining in the first half that gave St. Luke's a 3-1 lead. It was a devastating cross and even more devastating shot into the twine.

"We're getting a lot of crosses. Everyone was involved in the play (today)," Young said.

The Storm head coach admitted Tuesday was the first time he saw his team's ability in practice to airmail the ball effectively show itself during a regular-season game.

"Credit where credit's due. We've worked on our attacking shape and going forward," Clarke said. "In previous games they have created chances, they've just not taken them. Today, it was just pleasing they did take the opportunities they got."

Young and Parsons are the team's go-to net-finders in 2010, as they were expected to be. Their skills were much-needed in getting the team to stay above .500 on Tuesday. Parsons got her hat trick when she immediately responded to a Rye Country Day score. The Wildcats' freshman, Steph Sabatini, charged at the net and put one past Flood amid a scrum of players with 30:32 left in the half.

What happened immediately after: Parsons took the Storm's possession kick down the field, casually fended off two defenders and pushed a low shot past Kraus 13 seconds after the Rye Country Day score.

"This season we didn't have a lot of going-forward chances, so it's been 1-0 games," Young said. "We were happy with getting forward, going on the counter-attack."

Young speaks truth. The Storm's previous four wins this season had an aggregate score of 5-0. The Storm lost 5-0 against Loomis on Friday, and since then the team was put in a position in practice of dedicating as much time as possible to both ends of the field.

"Without being disrespectful to Rye Country Day, Loomis are a lot stronger team," Clarke said.

Young said the team has to focus primarily on not being so apprehensive and inhibited when playing on its heels.

"We have been working on defense, so it was a little disappointing to concede all those goals," she said. "We need to get a leader in the back. People are not talking to each other and manning their marks right now."

The coach and the players saw there was as much positive to take away as negative with such an up-and-down game. Clarke said his biggest takeaway halfway through the season with this team is the ability to defeat the teams it should beat and not lose to inferior competition.