By KEN MORSE
The Plainville girls soccer team rang up consecutive shutout victories last week knocking off Bulkeley 6-0 on Tuesday Sept. 19 and followed up with a hard fought 2-0 win over Maloney three days later improving to 3-2 on the season.
The Blue Devils have been led by a strong senior presence in captains Litzy Cruz, Abby Leander, Serena Simard, and Hannah Zelasko to go along with a group of six freshman who have provided a spark in the lineup.
“This has been a transition because we lost a lot of experience from the seniors who graduated last year,” said Plainville head coach Leszek Wrona who is entering his 23rd season at the helm.
“We have strong senior leadership this year but we are also bringing in some very talented younger players who are playing very well. We have three freshman starting and teamwork is our strength.”
That overall teamwork was on display last Tuesday in a convincing 6-0 win over Bulkeley. Junior goal keeper Maddie Rund was all she needed to be in the net with Cruz and Zelasko scoring goals to get the party started. Junior Olympia Bielawski added a goal along with freshman Krystyna Miller, Lyndsey DiTolla and Skyler Ibitz.
The Blue Devils faced a tougher challenge last Friday against Maloney as a stiff breeze blew across Alumni Field at Tinty Stadium. Plainville managed to hold a considerable advantage in time of possession on the strength of a pinpoint passing game that kept the ball down at the Spartans end for most of the first half.
Rund recorded her third shutout of the season in the net aided by the quick-footed defense of seniors Leander and Liz Tanguay along with juniors Isabella Niziolek and Rachel Parsons who didn’t allow the Spartans to get behind them to set up opportunities.
“We had many chances but we didn’t finish a lot of those opportunities,” said Wrona. “These were two good wins for us but I’m not looking for just ‘W’s’. I’m looking for steady improvement and learning from the mistakes we make. That’s what will make us a better team in the long run.”
Junior midfielders Sarah Tomczyk and Kayla DiTolla along with freshman Cortney Ouellette won their share of 50-50 balls over the middle with freshman outside middies Miller and Delaney Beausoleil turning everything inside. The Spartans only got off two shots on goal the entire first half.
Several times the Blue Devils had the mismatch against the Maloney defense but the shots sailed over the top of the cross bar or wide of the net. Finally the persistence paid off at 10:21 left in the half when Miller broke into the left of the box with two defenders draped all over her.
Miller turned on the speed and split the defenders creating a one on one with the Maloney keeper Alexa Papallo. The initial blast to the near post was temporarily stopped by a lunging dive but the ball popped out and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils sideline had hardly quieted down when Miller took off again on a dead run after receiving a nifty pass through traffic from Ouellette. This time the Maloney keeper never got a chance to react as Miller pounded one it just inside the far post for a 2-0 advantage.
The Spartans did a better job in the second half separating Plainville from the ball by disrupting the passing lanes but the damage was already done. Senior Cheyenne Emmendorfer and freshman Jordan Thompkins came on to shore up the Blue Devils defense that allowed just two more shots on goal.
Junior Andrea Nilson and sophomore Madison Albright made their presence felt at midfield to keep possessions alive for the Blue Devils. Rund made five saves in the net with the last one coming at 19 minutes to play on a wind blown shot that was hauled in just under the crossbar.
“Every year is different as you lose players and bring in new players,” said Wrona. “The last few years our weakness was scoring goals but this year we are creating the chances and that is the key.”
“We have a couple of tough opponents coming up. It’s going to come down to team work and communicating out on the field. We have a lot of potential on this team but we need to work together.”
Plainville was back in action on Monday, Sept. 25 at Berlin (3-1) and finish out the week on Thursday at home against East Catholic (3-1).
PHOTOS by KEN MORSE