By Ryan Holmes
11:04PM / Thursday, October 06, 2011
ADAMS, Mass. -- There's no question how important Mariah Ferrara and Cori Ghidotti are to the success of the Drury girls' soccer team this year. While the two offensive linchpins were at it again on Thursday night, it was junior goalie Ali Tatro who perhaps played the biggest role in the Blue Devils' 3-1 win over rival Hoosac Valley at Renfrew Field.
Ferrara's two goals in the first 17 minutes of the game gave Drury the lead, and Ghidotti's strike 15 minutes into the second half secured the win, but it was Tatro's 11 big saves throughout the game that allowed the Devils to come out on top. Despite holding the edge on the scoreboard, the visitors were outshot 21-7 in the game and managed just one corner kick compared to 10 for the Hurricanes. Tatro picked up the slack, however, coming off of her line often and forcing the hosts into shooting many of their shots over the net.
"She really pulled through for us," Ferrara said. "She made a lot of good saves toward the end when they were up in our half."
While Tatro certainly did her job to preserve the victory, it was Ferrara who got Drury (4-3-2) off to a blazing start by relentlessly attacking the left side of the field. She almost scored in the first minute of the game when she fired an open look off the top of the crossbar. She ended up cashing in five minutes later, however, taking a pass up the middle from Ghidotti and beating Hoosac keeper Megan Richardson (three saves) with a low shot into the left side of the net.
Ghidottti did a great job controlling the middle of the field all game long and worked well with Ferrara to create some confusion among the Hurricane defenders. Eleven minutes after Ferrara's first goal, Ghidotti set her up again by attacking the defense up the middle and sliding a pass to Ferrara on the left side. The senior captain went out wide and hit the ball in stride into the far-right side of the net.
"We were all pumped up in the beginning, and a lot of the younger kids stepped it up," Ferrara said of her team's strong start. "Cori and I were working well together up front in the beginning. She made a lot of good through balls, and I was right there to finish them.
"We've been waiting for this game throughout the whole season, so yesterday at practice we worked on moving and not being linear. Coach Mez was big on our movement, staying wide and making runs from the middle to the outside. It worked for us, and we were able to pull it off."
It was an uncharacteristic start for a Hoosac squad that hasn't given up two goals in the first half all season long. It also led to the Hurricanes' first loss of the year after Blair Mahar's club went 4-0-4 through its first eight games.
"We came out a little sluggish and they were just beating us to every 50-50 ball," Mahar said. "They were beating us, they were outplaying us and we just lost a few marks. If you miss a couple of marks against Ghidotti and Ferrara, then it's because they're just too fast and they'll split you with through balls."
To the hosts' credit, however, Hoosac rallied back to completely controlling the final 15 minutes of the first half. The edge the Blue Devils had early on began to fade, and the 'Canes began piling up shots at a rapid pace. They ended up outshooting Drury 12-5 in the first half and held a decisive 6-1 edge in corner kicks as well.
Hoosac nearly broke through with just under 12 minutes to play in the half when sophomore Megan Rodowicz settled a cross on the right side of the box and blasted a shot high towards Tatro. The Devils' keeper lept up and knocked her shot over the crossbar, however, making one of her six saves in the first half. The Hurricanes would come through five minutes later, though, on a goal by senior Elizabeth Provost. After her team's fifth corner kick of the half, Provost one-timed a loose ball in the box off of Tatro's hands and into the right side of the net to cut Drury's lead to 2-1 with 7:11 left before halftime.
Blue Devils head coach Molly Meczywor had seen enough at that point and encouraged her team to get back to what was working for them early on.
"I haven't seen the offense move that well all season long like we did in the first 15 minutes," Meczywor said. "After that, though, we started going up the middle again. In the first 15 minutes, you noticed that we went all wide. We were moving and creating space and then the same thing happened when we played Taconic. We pushed it down the middle, we didn't get the ball on the ground and you can't go up the middle in soccer."
Hoosac maintained its pressure after halftime, nearly tying the game when freshman midfielder Marissa Felter got loose on the right side for a point-blank shot at the Drury goal. Tatro calmly knocked the ball up in the air and caught it on the way down, however, to turn away the hosts best opportunity of the second half. Hoosac was unable to take advantage of a 9-2 edge in shots after halftime, shooting most of their chances high over the crossbar.
Fatigue might have set in for a Hurricanes' team that spent so much energy trying to get back into the game late in the first half. Add to the fact that Mahar has just one substitute on his bench right now and it's not hard to see why Hoosac might have ran out of gas late in the game. Ghidotti capped off her four-point night and put the 'Canes away by stealing a ball outside of the 18-yard box, splitting two defenders and firing a shot that beat Richardson to the near post with just under 25 minutes left in the game.
"I had one of my players quit on me this week and one player decide she was better off on JVs, so we we're down to one sub tonight," Mahar said. "In the 65th minute, we just began losing our legs. We played well with what we had, but I can't sub in, I can't give the girls a break and I can't give them water. They're out there for 80 minutes, and they played their guts out. The girls did a great job. We just needed to find the net on the service."
While Mahar tries to regroup his team after its first loss, Meczywor is hoping to build off this win and use it as momentum. The Blue Devils are back above .500 for the third time this season and Meczywor is hoping they can stay there going forward.
"I think it's just recognizing our successes," she said. "Today, it clicked for a lot of the forwards that hey we're moving and look what can happen. So hopefully some things clicked for us. We had big play from a lot of players. We talked about being pressure players. In games like this, you have to step up. You can't just be good, you have to be great. They stepped up to the call, so I'm pretty happy for them."
Drury next hosts Wahconah at 4:15 p.m on Tuesday, while Hoosac hosts Lenox at 4 p.m. the following day at a game play at the MCLA Athletic Complex.