Young Lee Learning, Looking for Finishing Touch

By Stephen Sports
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LEE, Mass. – After a rough start on Tuesday, the Lee girls soccer team settled down to take control of the game in the latter stages of the first half against Springfield International Charter.
The Wildcats did everything they needed to do in the last 20 minutes of the period – everything, that is, except find a way past SICS keeper Icyis Suggs.
The visiting Bulldogs went on to take a 3-0 lead into half-time and left town with a 6-1 win after Suggs made eight saves and Allanah Chambers registered a hat trick.
Lee generated five first-half corner kick opportunities and got several shots on goal from Faith Newton. But Suggs and her defense escaped the first 40 minutes with a clean sheet.
The Wildcats, still searching for their first win this fall, were left to wonder how the game might have gone differently if they could have cashed in on the offensive pressure they created when the lead was still surmountable.
“It felt like the goal was coming,” Lee coach Gina Guachione said of her team’s performance at the end of the half. “They just couldn’t get it. But they kept at it in that first half. They ended really well.
“And then we kind of started off slow in the second half and we just couldn’t pick up the momentum.”
The second half started like the first, when Chambers’ scored the first three goals of the game – two in the first seven minutes of play.
One minute into the second half, the Bulldogs had a goal disallowed on an offsides call. They finally did score in the 47th minute and again seven minutes later to make it a five-goal margin with 26 minutes left to play.
From there, again, the Wildcats were able to level the playing field. SICS did ultimately go up, 6-0, but only after a dangerous chance by Lee’s Jenna Simone from the left wing at the other end.
Simone finally was able to break through in the closing minutes, converting on a through ball into the 18 from Kenzie Garrity to avoid the shutout.
It was just the fourth goal in six games for Lee.
Guachione said that finishing is a priority for the team going forward.
“It’s that one thing we’re definitely going to work on in practice,” she said. “That final touch right at the end. … And working through injuries, moving people around.”
In some ways, the Wildcats knew that 2023 would be a learning experience. After seniors Maria Anaya, Shae Kelly and Bella Kotek, the varsity has 14 players in seventh through 10th grade, including sophomore keeper Maddie Kotek, who stopped 12 shots in Tuesday’s loss.
“We’re a really young team,” Guachione said. “So they’re just learning. Hopefully, we’ll turn it around in this second half of our season. Hopefully next time around, we’ll match up a little better.”
Lee (0-6) has a rematch at Hopkins Academy on Thursday in Hadley.
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