T’Birds Rally For First Win
SINCLAIRVILLE — Two second-half goals lifted Chautauqua Lake to a 2-1 Central Division victory over Cassadaga Valley in a matchup of teams searching for their first girls soccer wins of the season Tuesday afternoon.
The result was a welcome sight for Thunderbirds coach Rob Corwin, whose team has been searching for consistency throughout their first five games of the young season.
Chautauqua Lake opened with a 0-0 draw against non-league Falconer, which figures to be near the top of the West Division standings throughout this season. But the Thunderbirds followed that up with a 5-1 loss to Frewsburg in their league opener.
“These girls have either played lights-out or played really poorly,” Corwin said after Tuesday’s win. “There’s no in between this year.”
Chautauqua Lake then hung with Silver Creek in a 1-0 league loss before a disappointing 8-0 defeat at the hands of West Division power Southwestern.
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“Once we played Falconer well, we thought ‘Here’s our baseline,'” Corwin said. “We expected to build from there, but it hasn’t been that way yet.”
For Cassadaga Valley, for much of the past two seasons, the problem continues to be numbers. The Cougars carry just 12 girls on their roster and have played with just 10 at times this season to keep girls fresh.
“It’s tough every day. We usually play with 10 girls. This was the first time I asked the girls if they wanted to take a chance with 11 girls,” Cassadaga Valley coach Eriberto Ruiz said. “They all agreed they wanted to try it with 11 girls. It worked out.”
Chautauqua Lake scored the winner midway through the second half when junior Kaitlyn Fardink sent a ball from the left of Cassadaga Valley junior keeper Jessie Morrison through the middle of the box and onto the waiting foot of junior Reagan Kramer. Wasting no time, Kramer deposited the ball low into the corner of the net to give the Thunderbirds a 2-1 lead in the 22nd minute.
“All we worked on Monday was short passes,” Corwin said. “That’s exactly what we said ‘the same thing you did in practice, bring it in to the game.'”
The Cougars pressed the issue late and nearly had a point-blank scoring chance in the final few minutes, but Chautauqua Lake freshman Lauren Lindsey capped off a fine defensive day by blocking the shot before it was cleared to safety.
Cassadaga Valley opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the first half when sophomore Isabella Ruiz sent a ball toward the Chautauqua Lake end of the field that was tracked down by junior Anna Wenger. In alone on senior goalkeeper Jesse Zenns, Wenger converted her first goal of the young season.
“We got down on a mistake and they still stuck to the game plan,” Corwin said. “Small, short passes, move the ball and find the open seams.”
The Thunderbirds controlled possession for most of the game, but couldn’t break through until the ninth minute of the second half when they were awarded a direct kick as the result of a hand ball. On her birthday, senior captain Sara Corwin sent the free kick on net where it was punched away by Morrison. Sophomore Kyleigh Perdue found the rebound and hit the far side of the net to tie the score at 1-all.
“We’ve been so hesitant,” Coach Corwin said. “I’ve said ‘Girls, if it’s anywhere near that box put it in. Make sure somebody is there hitting the net.'”
From there, continued long-ball attempts from Cassadaga Valley were thwarted by the Thunderbirds’ defensive co-captain tandem of senior Hannah Gilmore and junior Shannon McKee.
“I was hoping it kept on progressing through the second half, but the girls got tired,” Coach Ruiz said. “After halftime, Chautauqua Lake figured out where to be. What are you going to do?”
Things will not get any easier for Chautauqua Lake, which hosts Southwestern on Friday while Cassadaga Valley travels to North Collins on Thursday.
“We’ve got a tough game against Southwestern on Friday. Seeing how we are going to react is going to be interesting,” Coach Corwin said. “I think we needed to get that first win out of the system and expect — not to win every game — but it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a good group of girls. We aren’t really a representation of our record so far.”
NOTES: Zenns made four first-half saves while Cheyanne Wolcott turned aside all three shots she faced in the second half for the Thunderbirds (1-3-1, 1-2-0). … Morrison made eight saves for the Cougars (1-4-0, 0-2-0).