With only three seniors on the field at the start of Tuesday’s game, it could be said that both the Schenectady and
Albany girls’ soccer teams are works in progress.
Right now, the Falcons are a little more advanced on the learning curve.
Albany used a pair of second-half goals to beat the host Patriots, 3-2, and remain the only unbeaten team nearly halfway through the 10-game Big 10 league schedule.
“It’s interesting this year,” said Albany coach Jim Grove. “We’re a junior team, and they [Schenectady] don’t have many seniors.
“It seems it’s like that all around the league this year, but that makes it more competitive, and, I think, fun for the girls.”
The Falcons had most of the fun in the second 40 minutes, getting goals from Leah Moran (five minutes into the second half) and Alex Huss (midway through).
And once they had the lead, the Falcons paid even more attention to talented Schenectady freshman forward Gab Santorio, the player the Patriots look to when they go forward.
“She’s a terrific player,” said Grove, who switched up defenders on Santorio, rather than assign one player to mark her the entire game. “We had to always be aware of where she was.”
Eleventh-grader Hayley Kellam drew the assignment in the latter stages of the game, as the 4-0-0 Falcons fought to defend their one-goal advantage.
“Hayley’s tremendous carrying out any assignment we give her,” said Grove, who had his defenders try to deny Santorio possession.
“She’s one of our best players, but we need to work on playing off her,” said Schenectady coach Susan Turner. “When Gab gets the ball, we know she’s going to draw two, sometimes three defenders.
“That’s when we’ve got to make some runs to get free, so Gab can make passes. It’s coming. They’re still learning to play together.”
That happened on the first goal of the game, as Santorio found Leah Van Buren on the flank and sprung her into open space.
Rachel Dias-Carlson pulled Albany even when she lofted a 25-yarder that snuck under the crossbar. but the Patriots made it 2-1 when junior defender Karlee Hillers came forward, gained possession and put a shot home 11 minutes before the break.
Moran’s goal came when the ball came back out to her after she took a corner kick. Her shot tucked inside the far post.
Huss got the final goal when
Katie Michaelis played her behind the defense from midfield, allowing her a clear run at goal.
“Leah’s goal was a nice, composed shot,” said Grove. “The last goal was something we had tried to do all game, and prevent them from doing all game, letting someone in the middle of the field turn and find a free runner.”
Turner started only two seniors, defenders Taylor DeThorne and Renee Brown. Another freshman, Kia Ference, is playing goal.
“We lost nine from last year’s team,” said Turner. “So, it’s taking time for them to get to know each other on the field.”
The Patriots started 3-0-0 overall, then tied Catholic Central and dropped a 3-1 decision to Troy. Schenectady beat Taconic Hills in a non-leaguer Monday.
“I’m pleased with what they’ve done so far, and the way they’ve
started the season,” said Turner. “Without the number of seniors, it’s going to take some time.
“We’ve been in every game, so they can see some reward for their work. And there are a number of teams who could win the league this year.”
“I’m still trying to get a read on the league, and we’re almost halfway through the [league] season,” said Grove. “Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, there’s a result your weren’t figuring.
“But, in a way, that’s good for the league. It’s making every game competitive.”