Northville’s Grace Forsey (11) controls the ball in front of Amsterdam’s Lucia Liverio (3) during a non-league girls soccer game Wednesday at Lynch Literacy Academy. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
The Northville girls soccer team has hovered in the top five of the New York State Sportswriters Association’s Class D rankings in all three weeks the poll has been released this season, and in Wednesday night’s non-league clash against Amsterdam, the Lady Falcons lived up to that billing.
Despite going down a goal early against a much-larger Class A Lady Rams team, Northville turned up the intensity in the second half and got goals from Hannah Coupas and Brytney Moore to come away with a 2-1 victory under the lights at Lynch Literacy Academy.
“The biggest thing was just finding that grit inside and getting back to the game we’re good at playing,” Northville coach Doug Hammons said. “We were trying to settle in, and there were some things we really had to work through.”
Northville (8-2), ranked fourth in this week’s Class D poll, struggled to find its way into the game early, but got a break just over two minutes into the second half when a long ball into the box bounced off the hand of an Amsterdam (6-5) defender, setting up a penalty kick.
Coupas, Northville’s do-everything central midfielder, stepped up and smashed a shot under the crossbar that Amsterdam goalie Jarey Aponte had no chance to defend.
Thirteen minutes later, Northville got the go-ahead goal when Kerrigan Groff played a long ball over the top of the Amsterdam defense. Moore raced onto the ball and got a slight touch on it just as Aponte was coming out to challenge, and the ball trickled into the net as several Amsterdam defenders scrambled to try and keep it out.
“We had to adjust to their fast defensive play,” Hammons said. “That was hard for us to adjust in the first half, but we dealt with it. … Brytney had countless chances and kept their defense very active.”
“I called Jarey out a little late, so that’s my fault for the one goal, and the other goal’s a handball in the box — what are you gonna do, no offense, it’s not an earned goal, it’s a penalty,” Amsterdam coach Jessica Byerwalters said.
Northville’s defense, led by Coupas and Brianna Bace, largely kept the Lady Rams at bay for the rest of the second half, but Amsterdam had one final chance in the closing seconds with a free kick deep in the Lady Falcons’ defensive third. Lucia Liverio’s effort into the box was promising, but it took a slight deflection as it went through a crowd of players and ended up going just wide. By the time Northville put the ball back in play, the clock expired.
“It’s a testament to our program and our state ranking,” Hammons said of the win. “I’m very proud of the girls tonight.”
In the early going, it was Amsterdam that was on the front foot, with Liverio giving the Northville defense fits down the right wing. That helped the Lady Rams cash in an early goal, as Liverio used some fancy footwork to evade a defender near the corner flag before cutting in toward the goal and unleashing a pinpoint cross that a charging Emma Patrei knocked into the goal for a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
That, however, was all the Lady Rams could muster, despite creating a number of promising chances throughout the remainder of the first half.
“We have a really, really tough time finishing,” Byerwalters said. “We have the momentum, we have the ball up — the last one went through four people with a wide-open goal — and we can’t finish. We’ve always had a problem finishing. That’s our downfall. We could get 25 shots on goal in a game and still come out with a loss. It’s something we really need to work on.”
The night had a special undertone, as the Lady Rams wore pink-accented uniforms in their effort to “Kick Out Breast Cancer.” The team held a halftime ceremony honoring cancer survivors in front of the crowd.
Northville will be back in action Saturday with a non-league game at Herkimer County Community College against Immaculate Heart, while Amsterdam will return to the field Tuesday night with a Foothills Council road game against Schuylerville before heading to Johnstown on Oct. 5.
“It’s a tough week,” Byerwalters said. “We can beat Johnstown, but we have to be able to put the ball in the goal.”