Staples Girls Varsity Soccer sweeps Conard Jamboree with 3 victories
Playing their third, fourth, and fifth games in three days, the Staples varsity team had a very rewarding outing at Conard’s Jamboree. These three victories came while Coach Beattie was evaluating the deep bench of the Varsity squad. All players were called on to make major contributions, sometimes heading into new positions, as an increasing numbers of injuries cut into the roster. The results show that many stepped up and performed at a high level.
The day started with a match against Granby. Staples controlled most of the play and was rewarded early (8 minutes in) when sophomore Charlotte Rossi found her classmate Lydia Shaw after a scrum on the sidelines. Shaw took the pass, challenged the goalie, and calmly placed the ball in the low, far corner. Two minutes later Rossi again found herself with the ball on the right wing. This time she fired a bullet just under the cross bar. The Granby keeper tried to deflect it over, but the shot was too strong.
In the few counter-attacks by Granby, senior keeper Mary Bennewitz showed her composure and leadership of the defense with good communication. The defensive line, anchored by Annie Gao and Emma Finn in the middle, was up to the challenges. Meanwhile, the mid-field and offense pressed hard with solid performances by Lauren Garcia, Tia Zajec, Chloe Rosenfield, and Maggie Walsh. At the 25th minute, Shaw scored her second goal with a long-range shot from outside the 18-yard box that found the upper corner. Later, freshman Sally McGee beat a couple of defenders bringing the ball up the left wing — her shot went barely wide. The game ended with a beautiful corner kick by senior captain Garcia put in the back of the net with a volley by Addy Fowle.
The next opponent, host Conard from West Hartford, was a much stiffer challenge. Freshman keeper Anna Sivinski took the cage and had a very busy 35 minutes, as did the defense, who included Gao, Amacker, Finn, McGee, Fowle, and Kit Epstein. At one point, the quick Conard captain broke past the defense and got in on goal, but pressure from Svinski and the defenders pushed her so wide that her shot rolled across the face of the goal and out. Sivinski also did well blocking an on-target shot from inside the 18.
All that hard work from the defense paid off, when the Staples offense came up with the lone goal of the game just before the final whistle. Shaw started the pressure with a shot from the right side blocked by the defense. Zajec fed Walsh the ball, which the senior captain took to her left foot and neatly placed in the low corner.
The final opponent was Middletown, not as challenging as Conard. But at this point attrition became a factor. By the end of the game, Coach Beattie was not playing eight of his varsity players (3 captains), mostly due to injury: Emily Snow (ankle), Eve Korus (jaw, no concussion, phew!), Garcia (ankle), Rosenfield (ankle), captain Megan Root (ankle — spot a trend?), captain Kate Lesch (home sick), Elizabeth Mitas (concussion) and Morgan McWhirter (ACL, will be sorely missed this season). For the remainder, this was their fifth game in 68 hours. Sivinski and Bennewitz split goal-tending duties, working with an ever-changing defensive line (additions including Brynly Marsh and Sally McGee) to post their third clean sheet of the day.
Both sides had chances. Middletown miss-fired on three corner kicks. Meanwhile, the Wreckers offense put the pressure on, first earning a free kick that Garcia missed wide right. Later Zajek fed a ball to Ivy Prince who took the ball up the right side and fired a shot over the keeper and into the top left corner to open the scoring. Prince later showed great speed chasing down balls, beating defenders, and feeding in a cross that Rossi nearly converted. The final tally of the day started in defense with Kit Epstein feeding Lydia Shaw a ball she received at mid-field. Shaw burst down the left side, beating the defense, and fired a shot inside the near post.
Coach Beattie was understandably pleased with the team’s performance on the day: “today was a great showcase of our ability to turn games on their head with quick counter-attacks and clinical finishing. Annoyingly we picked up a few injuries; hopefully, after a long weekend, the players are ready to go. Defensively we looked sound, both Gks put in good performances. All in all, the preseason has been a good one.”
5 & 0 with a 14-3 goal scoring advantage — “a good one” might be a bit of Irish understatement. Many of these teams (except Pomperaug which was ranked 11th in the state last year) did not have strong seasons last year. So the real test is still to come. The regular season begins on Wed, 9/10 away at Trinity Catholic. The home season begins Friday, 9/12 against a challenging Trumbull team.