ROTTERDAM — The Schalmont girls’ soccer team has entered the physical-and-mental education part of its schedule.
Playing its third game in three days, and coming off its first two losses to larger, out-of-area schools this weekend, Schalmont could be forgiven for not being its crispest against Colonial Council opponent Cohoes on Monday.
The Sabres, though, would not have forgiven themselves. Despite playing the first half in 77-degree temperature and a bright sun, Schalmont scored four times in a little-more-than 12-minute stretch. They continued to use what they learned to shut the Tigers out 8-0 to improve to 4-0 in the league and 4-2 overall.
After beating league foes Ravena, Voorheesville and Cobleskill-Richmondville by a combined 28-2, Schalmont lost 5-1 to Garden City, a Class A school from Section VIII, on Saturday, and 5-2 to The Nichols School, a slightly larger private school from Buffalo, on Sunday as part of the Hall of Fame Tournament.
Schalmont coach Ryan Fries said the tournament organizer knew the Sabres won the Section II Class B title last year before falling to Skaneateles in the first round of the regional championships, but besides that, he said who they faced was random.
“I knew we were going to be OK, but to what level I didn’t know,” Fries said. “This is where that tournament and playing teams out of our area you don’t see gets us truly tested.”
“That was definitely a learning experience,” said senior midfielder Simone Cassano, a fifth-year varsity player. “We played teams that we would never usually play in our Colonial Council, and I think it was a good experience for us to get out of our comfort zone and play harder competition.”
“The weekend was an eye-opening experience,” added sophomore forward Abigail Hughes, who had three goals and an assist Monday. “We learned to work harder because the teams were harder. We tried to apply what we learned to this game.”
They may not have learned any more about 50-50 balls and general flow over the weekend, but if so, they showed their work Monday. The Sabres got to most of the contested balls first, and they never stopped moving, even if the ball was far away. Larger pictures were being painted.
“I think our motto of playing hard, smart and together, we’re living by that,” said Cassano, who had two goals Monday. “We’re getting stronger, and our chemistry and flow are getting better every game.”
Fries said he gave his players homework assignments throughout Monday’s game.
“Our numbers, our positioning, where we should be, the moves we should be making. Today, I kind of forced them to have target players and work through certain people,” he said.
The Sabres lost a majority of starters to graduation, but the team also has experienced girls who got playing time last year stepping into starting roles this season. Having won a Section II championship, the girls know that they’ll be expected to defend it. At the very least.
“We’re going all the way,” Cassano said, of her goal. “[The Skaneateles loss] did not sit well at all.”
Sophomore Gianna Cirilla added two goals Monday, with Meg Lasher adding the other tally. Annalise Tyler had two assists.
“There’s always a target on our back,” Fries said. “I’m happy with their progress. They just have to make those adjustments individually, then see them as a team. Once we make those switches, I think we’ll be OK.”
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