Drury's Defensive Dominance Continues
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Three hundred, 20 minute into the season, the Drury High School girls soccer team is yet to allow a goal.
In Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Hopkins, the Blue Devils defense survived one of its sternest tests to date.
“They’re a good team,” Drury coach Maria Bartini said. “They can move the ball well. They’re really physical. We took a few knocks because of it. … It was a good game. We were really trying to play our game the way we wanted to.”
Kayla McGrath scored her seventh goal of the season, and Madison Saunders added a goal as Drury improved to 4-0, outscoring its opponents by a margin of 24-0 along the way.
The goal total was helped along by a couple of blowouts in the Blue Devils’ last two outings before Tuesday. The zero is a testament to Drury’s stability in the back.
“I think our back line has been playing together a pretty long time,” Bartini said. “They’re pretty disciplined in their shape, and they do kind of understand how to cover for each other and have one pressure as another is covering. And then we get good balance on the weak side, so if we don’t get the first tackle, there’s someone there to get the second one.
“And that is something we’ve been working on since I started coaching the program. It was a big emphasis to learn how to play good team defense and how to work together as a back line unit. And I think we have the girls really implementing that quite well.”
This fall, sophomore keeper Brooke Bishop has worked in nicely for the defensive core, replacing the graduated Mackenzie Dobbert.
Bishop needed to make seven stops on Tuesday to earn her fourth varsity shutout.
“Brooke is doing a fantastic job,” Bartini said. “We’re doing a lot of work with her in practice, and she’s really coming along beautifully. She saw some good shots and made some good saves today. That was really good for her, and hopefully she can build some confidence in the experience.”
At the other end, McGrath reinforced her reputation as one of the most dangerous snipers in the county when she drilled a shot from 25 yards out in the first 10 minutes to give Drury an early lead.
But Cassidy Fyden (15 saves) and the Hopkins defense proved resilient.
The Blue Devils carried the play most of the game, and at the start of the first half, they peppered Fyden with five shots on goal in the first 11 minutes after intermission.
For the most part, the trio of seniors Samantha Kogut and Madeline Nesbit and sophomore Melanie Moresi limited Hopkins’ chances, but a Golden Hawks forward did get behind the defense for a breakaway in the 66th minute with a chance to get the equalizing goal. Bishop was able to deny the point blank shot to preserve her shutout bid.
About a minute later, Drury finally gave her an insurance goal.
Elli Miles led Saunders with a through ball to the left wing, and Saunders finished inside the far post to make it 2-0.
Although there was a lot to like about Drury’s afternoon on Tuesday, there were a couple of sour notes. Sophomore Hailey Kingsley and first-year Jacinta Felix each left the game after being shaken up in the second half.
Bartini said afterward she hopes neither is facing a long layoff.
“I don’t think they’re serious injuries,” she said. “I think it should be OK. … Haley probably could have probably gotten back on the field. But you want to be cautious. It’s a long season. I want to have everybody healthy.
“And if we can make it work with what we have … Fortunately, we’ve got a solid group for the varsity, and really anybody can play anywhere. I can put any of these girls in a lot of different positions, and it works.”
Drury will look to stay unbeaten on Thursday when it hosts Hampden Charter School of Science for its fifth straight Pioneer South Division match to open the year.