ROTTERDAM — Before the 2017 girls’ soccer season got going, Schalmont head coach Alaina Resue made a switch. Sofia Cassano had emerged during her freshman season as a player to watch from her midfield position, but Resue thought Cassano could make even more of an impact as a sophomore if she moved to striker.
“I knew it would [work] for her,” Resue said. “It was just whether or not she knew it would for her.”
There were some growing pains as Cassano figured out the position — but that “some” was contained to the preseason. Cassano started her 2017 season with three goals against Watervliet, as the state’s second-ranked Class B team picked up the first win in its 9-0-0 start to the campaign.
Since that first outing, Cassano’s production hasn’t slowed. Her 13 goals lead the Sabres, while her five assists are tied for third.
Cassano is largely disinterested about where she ranks within her team’s scoring list.
“I don’t look at that stuff,” Cassano said. “I’m just here to have some fun.”
But . . .
“If that’s going on, though, that’s great,” she finished.
Cassano had played a forward position in the past during the club season. Resue credited Cassano for her enthusiasm to learn the position within Schalmont’s scheme, a move which has allowed Resue increased flexibility in how she can use the sophomore star.
“She was willing to just walk in, learn and do the work to figure it out,” Resue said.
“I kind of like it better,” Cassano said, “but I don’t think the change is a big deal, anyway, because now I can play both.”
Senior teammate Molly Older, who missed last season with a knee injury, said Cassano’s growth into more of a scorer has been key for Schalmont this season. While Schalmont has also relied on junior Vanessa Wainwright and sophomore Davia Rossi — back playing this year after successfully battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma during the 2016 season — Cassano’s development showed in her two-goal effort last Thursday in a 3-1 win against previously-undefeated Holy Names.
“Personally, I love Sofia up there for us. She’s on time for every ball,” Older said after that win. “She makes the correct runs and she knows how to finish.”
Schalmont’s early success this season has not left the club satisfied. The Sabres won a state title in 2015, but lost in the state playoffs last season to end an injury-riddled campaign. This year’s squad is playing like it has unfinished business.
“We’re going to keep going,” Cassano said. “There’s more games — more hard games — but if we keep going how we’re going, at the pace we’re going and keep coming together, I think we can do great.”
Already, though, Cassano has become a star for the Sabres — just like her coach predicted.
“She’s given me exactly what I’ve expected from her,” Resue said.