ROTTERDAM — Something weird happened in the second half of Schalmont’s Colonial Council girls’ soccer game Thursday against Holy Names.
“We had to come back and actually play,” Schalmont junior Makenzie Tripp said.
So often, that’s not the case for the Sabres, the twice-defending Section II Class B champion. Schalmont had rolled through its first eight matches of the season with a 43-6 scoring advantage — but Holy Names entered Thursday’s game with a 41-5 advantage of its own.
“When you look at the games that they’ve played, and the scores of their games and how they’ve won those games, it’s very consistent with how we’ve been playing in our wins,” Schalmont head coach Alaina Resue said. “So we knew going in that we were going to be matched up very well.”
The Sabres, though, found a way to emerge with a 3-1 win Thursday, their third victory this week. Two goals from sophomore Sofia Cassano and a score from senior Molly Older carried Schalmont through a matchup of teams ranked high in the state’s Class B poll. Schalmont (9-0-0, 9-0-0) is ranked second this week, while Holy Names (8-1-0, 8-1-0) is fifth.
“We knew this game was going to be hard,” Cassano said. “But I think we did well in this game because over the season we’ve gotten really close and we’re really comfortable playing with each other.”
Schalmont looked like it might run away with Thursday’s game like normal. Cassano scored in the 10th minute off an assist from Older, while the senior added her goal just seconds before halftime off a direct kick.
“It definitely gave us a lot of momentum,” Older said of her strike. “At halftime, we were sitting together in our usual spot and we were all hyped up because [Holy Names] is such a good team. We knew they were going to be tough.”
Holy Names showed that toughness early in the second half. After an early chance hit the post for Holy Names, freshman Bella Tronco netted a score in the 43rd minute to cut Schalmont’s lead in half.
But a deflected shot from junior Kasey Dillenbeck made its way to the foot of Cassano in the 51st minute, and the sophomore tapped in a score from which Holy Names never recovered.
“I just kind of touched it,” Cassano said. “I didn’t expect it to go in, but it did.”
Holy Names head coach Will Graham said it was tough for his team to claw back after a timid start.
“From the start of the game, we ended up playing their game, falling into their trap,” Graham said. “We’re known for our high tempo, get the ball wide [and] we’ve got some of the best strikers in the league — and we just weren’t utilizing them. We were scared. We were laying back.”
The intimidation factor of playing Schalmont, which has won a pair of state titles this decade, likely played a part in that. Against Holy Names, though, the Sabres entered the game interested to see how they matched up with another top team in their league and classification — and came away satisfied with their effort.
“Personally,” Cassano said, “I think this is the best game we’ve played all season.”