McGRAW — Mike Radziwon had seen it before — just two days before, actually.
On a day that featured a torrential downpour followed by a steady rain followed by clearing, with high humidity throughout, the coach of the Cincinnatus Central girls’ soccer team watched his visiting squad fall behind early against rival McGraw Thursday afternoon.
He and everyone else present then saw the Red Lions take over the Central Counties League game, scoring a trio of goals in a 14-minute span for a 3-1 halftime lead en route to what ended up a 5-1 win, the third in as many league games this season for the defending champions. McGraw, meanwhile, fell to 2-2 in league play and 3-2 overall.
Cincy had fallen behind Stockbridge Valley early in Tuesday’s game, and Radziwon said with a smile that “The last couple of games we haven’t been in gear the first five minutes, but when we get it in gear we’re fine.” His team ended up trouncing the Cougars, 11-1.
The Red Lions are without senior forward Elizabeth Brenchley for an undetermined period after she was injured against Stockbridge Valley, and that was a concern of Radziwon’s. “She’s our second leading goal scorer, a senior leader and the best player we have at following up rebounds on shots,” he said of Brenchley. “On a rainy day like this, that could make a difference.”
“We just let down a little,” Eagles coach Jamie Allen said. “Cincinnatus had a great passing game and we needed to stay a little stronger, more consistent, throughout the game. They picked it up a little once they fell behind.
“Kassie Neff (senior sweeper) played one of her best games and stayed strong throughout the game, but there’s only so much one girl can do. Rachel (Todd senior goalie) made some great saves or Cincy could have scored some more. The weather created some chaos, but it was the same for both teams. Everyone just had to regroup.”
Junior forward Marissa Jenney gave McGraw the lead 6:45 into the game with her first goal of the season, taking a pass from freshman midfielder Taylor Conklin and getting around Red Lions sophomore goalie Kara Steacy, who had come out to challenge Conklin.
The visitors equalized at around the 17-minute mark as junior midfielder Kyleigh Eaton scored off the second-effort rebound of a shot by sophomore forward Delaney Rutan. The same pair connected with 5:23 left in the half as Eaton took a pass from Rutan on the left side, cut in and put a ball into the upper right corner of the net for her third goal of the season.
Senior midfielder Remington Blasdell scored the next two goals, unassisted from close in on the near right side with 3:44 left in the first half and with 19:58 left in the game from a similar spot, and now also has three goals on the season. Rutan closed out the scoring with her team-high eighth goal of the season, from point-blank range on the right side, as she was crashed into by a defender after taking a pass from sophomore midfielder Montana Wolf.
McGraw and Todd came in having shut out three opponents in a row. Asked if finally being scored on affected her team, Allen said “I think so. It’s tough to bounce back offensively, especially after giving up a few goals.”
“I think our scoring got to them a little,” Radziwon said. “We finished with five goals, but (Todd) is a great keeper, and I told her so after the game. I also thought that (junior defender) Emily Price played her best game all year for us.”
The winners wound up with a 24-9 shot advantage, Todd with 17 saves to four for Steacy.
“Encouraging each other was important in this game, especially with the bad weather,” Eaton said.
“We had to make sure that everyone kept on pushing through, even if things got difficult. The weather made it slippery and we struggled, but just had to take it easy with our passes.
“We thought it would be a tough game, and it was. But we broke out and scored more goals than I thought we would.”
“Staying positive, keeping good spirits and not giving up were keys for us,” Blasdell said. “It was hard to get your footing when it was raining, but once we settled down and took over we knew we weren’t going to lose. They’re one of the top teams in the league, along with us, and we knew it would be tough. But we had a good mindset.”
With the win, Cincy climbed into a tie with DeRuyter for first place in the league. Asked if a message had been sent,. Radziwon said that “People will probably take notice. I’ll leave that up to them; I think it’s the best game we’ve played this season.”
The Red Lions host Brookfield Tuesday while the Eagles visit Madison, both games slated to start at 4:30 p.m.