Coming into Wednesday night’s non-league field hockey match at George Butts Field, both the Cortland High and Homer Central girls were not only looking for a first win but for a first goal.
In a night of firsts, Purple Tiger senior midfielder Britney Stillman found the cage 10 minutes into the game for the only goal of the night as Cortland came away with a 1-0 victory. It was Stillman’s first varsity goal of her career. It was the first win of the season for Cortland (1-2 overall) while Homer fell to 0-3.
“It was a good win,” Stillman said. “I think we will get some momentum going now with our first goal of the year.
“It was my first goal of the season so I’m very excited,” she added. “It was also my first goal of varsity. It’s a big moment for me.”
“It was important for momentum to get that first goal,” Cortland coach Lisa Caselle said. “A couple of girls were with me when we lost in sudden death overtime a couple of years ago. For them it was a little bit of revenge, but it is really just a step in our journey to make sectionals.
“I’m happy Britney got a goal,” she continued. “I was excited that she got that shot off. We had a lot of scoring opportunities. We were hoping to get a couple of more goals, but I am very proud of everything they’ve done.”
Cortland came out strong from the opening whistle and forced the play against a slow-starting Homer squad. With nine shots and four penalty corners, the Purple Tigers were on the attack, but sophomore Tasie Fox stood tall in the Trojan goal as she made eight of her 10 saves for the night in the first 30 minutes.
“I’m really impressed with how Tasie has stepped up to the plate after playing behind Madalyn Mallory,” Homer coach McKenna L’Hommedieu said. “She is doing a great job and she is also guiding a new goalie (Jalyn King) for us.
“We are still working on who works best together,” she added. “We lost nine girls from last year. We are use to their leadership. We do have girls stepping up this year, but we still figuring some things out like confidence in each other. We are improving in that and that will make a big difference in our upcoming games.”
Homer only got one shot off in the first half, but they started to build a little momentum in the second half as Isabelle Case and Jaclyn DeLine got a couple of strong pushes towards the offensive circle. Unfortunately, most of those opportunities were thwarted by junior center back Lauren Swartz who calmly used her stick to stop the Trojan advances to take the ball back the other direction.
“Lauren Swartz is our center defender and she plays a huge role on the team,” Caselle said. “She helps on offense and defense. She really is involved in any play. She was a big reason Homer did not get a goal tonight along with Kelsey (Gibbons).”
“I knew about Lauren Swartz,” L’Hommedieu stated. “She really is a strong defensive player. It’s hard working the ball up the field and have her take the ball away.”
Gibbons stopped all three Homer shots she saw in the Purple Tiger goal.
In the end, both coaches saw many positives in this young season.
“We have made a lot of progress since last year,” Caselle said. “Little Falls was tough just because it was our second straight days with no subs. We did hold Fayetteville-Manlius to two goals the day before and they lost in the sectional finals last year. I think we really can do a lot of good things.”
“I am proud of our girls and how we pulled together,” L’Hommedieu commented. “Things are starting to come together and this was a good representation of that. Our slow start is what hurt. We almost got down, but we pushed through. We just weren’t able to tie up the score. We are still working on who works best together.”
Both teams will have their first league games Friday. Cortland will host East Syracuse-Minoa with JV action beginning at 5 p.m in the Salt City Athletic Conference Empire Division. Homer will travel to Cato-Meridian for an OHSL Liberty-Patriot Division contest at 4:30 p.m.