ACS girls down Windham; tie in match with Roxbury

By Julia Green
A match-up between the Andes and Roxbury girls on Monday night yielded a score perhaps better suited to a different sport than soccer. After two overtime periods the game ended in a 4-4 tie, despite a 3-1 Andes lead with just over 15 minutes left to play in regulation.
“We came out and scored first and were looking really pretty good, and then we just gave up two goals that shouldn’t have been put in,” said Roxbury Head Coach Lisa Faraci.
Roxbury’s first goal came less than six minutes into the game, when Christina Chirappa scored to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead. Following back-to-back goals by Andes’ Kaitlin Mackay off assists from Karli Tait, however, the Mountaineers held a 2-1 lead going into halftime.
Andes struck again less than three minutes into the second half, when Rachel Andrews hit a long ball from about midfield that bounced over the Roxbury keeper’s head to widen the Mountaineers’ lead to 3-1.
“It looked like we were doomed,” Faraci said. “But they fought back hard.”
Roxbury’s Rachel Meckes tallied a goal for the Rockets with just over 15 minutes left in regulation to bring them within one; however, Mariah Ruff once again gave Andes some breathing room with a goal less than a minute later to make it 4-2.
Roxbury’s Sydney Peters tallied another goal for the Rockets to bring them within a one-goal margin once again, and Heather Davie put another one on the board for Roxbury with less than five minutes left in regulation to make it four apiece.
“Our goals for the season were just to come out and be competitive,” Faraci said “I’m looking to put together some connections in the midfield, combinations that will work for us, and I have a couple of young girls coming in for us and really working hard there.”
The Rockets return six seniors from last year’s squad. Delaware League All-Star honorable mention honoree Brianna George anchors the defense from her position at sweeper, and senior Alexis Peters also helps lead the Rockets’ defense.
“Brianna is really doing a great job, I really can’t ask anything more of her,” Faraci said. “And Alexis is one of those players who will give me everything she’s got and go where she’s needed.”
Senior Rachel Meckes leads the Roxbury offense from the front line with fellow senior Heather Davie, and returning senior Haley Walcott will play in the midfield for the Rockets. Another senior, Sam Hamil, plays outside back.
“Offensively, we’re pretty quick,” Faraci said. “I’ve got some quick girls, though up front and in the midfield we’re going to be kind of young. Our defense is really going to play a key role for us. We’re taking a beating right now, getting a lot of shots on us, but we’re going to try to fix that midi spot and find that combination where some younger girls can grow into that spot.”
The Roxbury girls will host the visiting Eagles of Downsville at home on Thursday.

Big victory
After a winless season last year, the Andes Lady Mountaineers and head coaches Tom Little and Sandra Noonan were optimistic about the start of this year’s fall soccer season: an optimism that paid off, as the host Mountaineers defeated visiting Windham 6-1 on Friday.
Andes was led by Mariah Ruff, who totaled four goals and an assist, tallying a hat trick in the first half. Teammate Kaitlin Mackay added two goals for Andes, who received an assist from Kelsey Little.
The Mountaineers return six seniors from last year’s roster, having lost only one – Delaware County All-Star honorable mention nominee Hope Eczgnak – to graduation.
“We have a really good core of seniors, so we’re hoping for a little bit more leadership than we’ve had in years before,” Little said last week. “Last year we only had one senior, and you really need that strength in the older kids to propel yourself through a whole season.”
In addition to the leadership of the upperclassmen, Little said he is also expecting depth to be a key for the Mountaineers, who this year boast a roster of 18 players – a significant increase from past years, where the roster had only 13 and sometimes only 11 available on game days. Low numbers proved to be a key challenge for Andes last year, particularly as the Mountaineers found themselves battling injury.
“It takes a lot out of you when a lot of the larger clubs are throwing wholesale teams at you, substituting six or seven girls at a time,” he said. “So I’m hoping our stamina will be a bit better for us. Conditioning has been a big factor on our minds this season.”
Another key factor for the Mountaineers, Little said, will be the number of girls putting the ball in the net.
“We had five girls last year scoring, which was a big improvement over the previous few years,” he said, “so we’re hoping to build on that.”
The Andes offense will be led by senior forward Karli Tait and will be looking for contributions from freshman Little, a 2008 Delaware League All-Star selection, and eighth-grader Ruff, who had 13 points for the Mountaineers last year. But, while the Mountaineers return key players on both offense and defense, Little said he anticipates moving players around over the course of the season.
“I teach the game of soccer universally,” he said, “so that you may be on the back like but you’re going to have to know exactly where the strikers are and the midfielders are. We’re going to have to rotate like everybody else.”
And, based on his team’s work ethic in preseason after a week more of practice than in past years, Little said he is optimistic about the direction in which his squad is headed.
“I really think the girls have been playing very hard,” he said. “We’ve been anxious to get out on the field and see how our practices have paid off. Since we haven’t had any scrimmages, it’s hard to come up with a good outlook on how things are going to go, but they’ve been practicing really hard and the girls have shown a lot of commitment to get there for practices at 7 in the morning, so I think they’re quite ready.”
And, prior to Friday’s victory, Little was looking forward to the opportunity for his team to put its mark in the win column.
“We’ve been skunked for the last few years, so we’re looking for that first win,” he said. “The girls last year played really quite well, considering the age at that time with only one senior. We were within striking range of winning a couple of games, going into overtime a few times, losing by one goal a few times, so we’re really on the cusp of breaking down that door. The girls have all the skills there – it’s just a matter of tapping at the right time and making sure the injury bug doesn’t bite us. That’s what we’re hoping for.
“I see us going to sectionals if they perform like they’re capable,” he added. “Every game is going to be a challenge and every game is a new opportunity for them, so it’s up to them to rise and Sandra and I to motivate them. They’ve already got the skills, it’s just a matter of our ability to put them in the right position to do it.”

Margaretville Blue Devils
The Margaretville girls jumped right into the thick of the season last week, playing three games in four days and walking away with their second win.
The Blue Devils played their home opener on Wednesday, hosting the visiting Indians of Stamford, and didn’t wait long to draw first blood. Senior Amanda Drizis put Margaretville on the scoreboard a scant 19 seconds into the first half, giving the Blue Devils a lead that they never surrendered. Senior teammate Erica Faulkner followed the unyielding tone set by Drizis, tallying a hat trick to give the Blue Devils some cushion. Her third goal, a chip shot from the left-hand side, came with a mere 17 seconds left in the game.
“We dominated for most of the game,” said Margaretville Head Coach Toni Smith. “Our greatest opportunities came from give-and-go’s and passing. We weren’t challenged so much defensively.”
Of Drizis’ quick goal, which kick started a 23-7 shooting edge for the Blue Devils, she added, “You’re always looking to do that in the game.”
The Blue Devils followed Wednesday’s win with the Hall of Fame Tournament in Oneonta, where they faced tough competition from Cooperstown and Millbrook on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Saturday’s match-up proved tough for the Blue Devils, who fell 3-1; Smith attributed at least two of Cooperstown’s goals to defensive breakdowns.
“We have a very young defense,” she said. “But if we continue to work out our little quirks back there, we’ll definitely see a lot more positive games.”
But overall, Smith said, she thinks her team played “really well. It should have been a 1-1 game. They were a beatable team; I think if we’d played Saturday like we did Sunday, we would have beat that team. We played them very well. We really held them for the whole first half of the game.”
The Blue Devils’ lone goal came with 20 seconds left in the game, when Drizis drove a left-footed shot into the net from about 20 yards out.
Margaretville goalkeeper Meg McKenna tallied nine saves for the Blue Devils, who had 13 shots and six corner kicks while Cooperstown tallied 11 shots and four corners.
The Margaretville girls were met with another tough challenge on Sunday, when they faced Millbrook in the second day of the Hall of Fame Tournament. Early pressure from a skilled Millbrook offense put the Blue Devils in an early hole, and despite a stronger second half showing, they were unable to even the score.
“Milford was a very quick, skilled team,” Smith said on Sunday. “Once our girls adjusted to that, we played much better. In the first half we had some nice runs, but we weren’t able to capitalize on them. In the second half we played them pretty much evenly, and our defense didn’t allow any goals.”
And, in addition to a stingy Blue Devil defense, the forward line showed a spark, netting a goal at the final whistle; however, the center official deemed it invalid, stating that it came after time had expired.
McKenna tallied nine saves for the Blue Devils, whose shots were limited to three and who tallied only two corners, though Smith said the stats are not indicative of her team’s showing.
“I’m pleased with all of their play,” Smith said. “I think they stepped up to the challenge yesterday, and today against Millbrook. For some of them, it’s the first time they’ve played on the Hall of Fame field, so I’m very pleased with their play and the leadership from the seniors. I was very pleased.”
Over the course of the weekend, Smith said, she was very satisfied by her team’s showing.
“Yesterday’s and today’s teams are Class C schools,” she said, adding that Margaretville’s smaller roster presented a challenge in terms of substituting. “But I think they just worked well supporting one another and stepping up to the challenge. Working together, supporting one another and having the flexibility to play where the team needs them.”
Smith added that, based on the weekend’s games, she knows some of the things she hopes to see her team work on in the coming weeks.
“Continuing to support one another, good strong passes, really trying to create a good passing game using triangles, working the ball up the outside of the field, crossing, and allowing the forwards to finish,” she said. “So besides the defensive part of it, we’re looking for the offensive runs, taking the ball up the outside, and looking forward the forwards to be open to finish.”
The Blue Devils will travel to play at Hunter at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday; they will also compete in their own tournament at Margaretville on Saturday.
“I’m really hoping to challenge any team out there,” she said. “And with their hard work and with them all pulling together, I think we can challenge any of them.”