Girls' soccer: Sabres overcome distractions, storm to 7-1 victory (with photo gallery)
ROTTERDAM Maybe the Schalmont girls’ soccer team had too much to think about heading into Monday’s Colonial Council home game with Voorheesville.
There was the matter of a 36-game winning streak, a rematch against an opponent that fell, 5-0, earlier in the season and it was Senior Day.
Whether it was all of the above, or a combination of factors, the Lady Sabres found themselves in an unfamiliar position less than two minutes into the game — trailing for the first time all season.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said central defender Isabella Borini. “I don’t want to say I’m happy that they scored, but it was a wakeup call.
“It’s better we get in that situation before sectionals, so we know we can come back from it. We need to be in different situations so we don’t panic.”
Schalmont quickly gained control after Caroline Weiss’ goal 1:25 into the game, and rolled to a 7-1 win, scoring five times in the second half, three of those goals coming in the final 11 minutes.
“Sometimes, we start out a little lackadaisical,” said midfielder Alexandra Cardinal. “Then we realize it.”
Schamont coach Angelo Caschera has been warning his team that maybe things have been too easy. Schalmont had outscored its first 13 opponents by a 95-1 margin.
“I keep telling them that it’s not going to be that easy,” he said. “You can see it. Voorheesville came out and pushed hard. They didn’t let us breathe. The first 10, 15 minutes, we panicked a ltttle bit.”
The Lady Blackbirds used that pressure to get the goal that put Schalmont behind for the first time all season. Weiss found the ball at her feet 40 yards from goal with no defender able to make a play after she and a teammate doubled the pressure on the ball and forced a turnover.
“I tell them all the time, when you start the game, and you’re not ready and someone scores on you, it’s hard to come back,” said Caschera. “We were lucky it was only one goal. This was good, though. They saw what can happen.”
Schalmont did settle down, especially when Caschera put in midfielder Madeline Saccocio. She teamed with Cardinal and Ciara Vitallo to control the middle of the field.
“She plays so well one-touch,” Caschera said of Saccocio. “The ball is there, then it’s gone.”
Sophomore Bianca Mascitelli pulled Schalmont even with 13:35 to play in the half on a redirected header, and leading scorer Diana DiCocco gave the reigning state Class B champions the lead for good with 91 seconds remaining in the half, sprung on the counter attack by Julia Rossi.
Only the efforts of freshman goalkeeper Jordan Pettograsso prevented Schalmont from scoring in double digits. She made eight saves in the first half, and 10 in the second half as Schalmont came forward in waves.
“I knew we were going to score, but it took quite a while,” said Caschera. “When that happens, then they start getting nervous.”
Cardinal scored twice in the second half, with fellow seniors Rachel Gac and Allie Gallo also getting goals before Borini scored off a corner kick with nine seconds to play.
Schalmont is two wins away from a second consecutive 16-0-0 Colonial Council season.
“It’s very important, especially to the players who have been on the team before,” said Cardinal. “We want to keep that going.”
Schalmont is not looking beyond that, though the Lady Sabres are the likely top seed when the sectional pairings are drawn up a week from today.
“We’re looking at Cobleskill on Wednesday, then Watervliet,” said Borini in her best coach-speak. “This game shows any team can score on us if we’re not ready. It shows us we’re not invincible.”
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” added Cardinal.
Caschera’s theme in practice today likely will reflect that attitude.
“I’ve been telling them since Day 1, make every game like it’s a playoff game,” he said. “I don’t care who we’re playing, play hard for 80 minutes.”