Coming off its first two losses of the season earlier in the week, the Cortland High girls’ soccer team was in need of a psychological boost.
The Purple Tigers got it Saturday on a hot morning/early afternoon, doing all of the scoring in the space of twelve and a half minutes in what ended up a 3-0 non-league win over rival Homer Central on Moiseichik Field.
“I told them at halftime that we were dominating the game but not getting enough shots,” said Cortland coach Ilona Ryon, her team now 5-2-1 overall. “One of the players said that we were the stronger team and were playing down a little; I told them to prove they were the better team not just on the field, but on the scoreboard as well.”
Homer coach Morgan Osborne, whose team is now 4-2-2 overall, said that she told her girls that “You need to give a full 40 minutes, and not one minute less; work hard, find feet and find our crosses and you’ll be in great shape.”
The hosts came out strong in the second half, earning two corner kicks in the first three minutes before finally breaking through. A long free kick from midfield by senior back Shayla Marsh cleared a cluster of players and was controlled by sophomore forward/midfielder Grace Call, who advanced a few strides and let go a shot that Homer senior goalie Anna Gugerty got a piece of, only to have it roll into the goal 4:56 in.
“A defender was grabbing my shirt as Shayla took the kick so I slapped her hands off, took the ball and just scored,” Call said of her third goal of the season. Homer stepped up its pressure after falling behind,but the Purple Tigers doubled their lead with 23:15 left.
After a corner kick by senior midfielder Alaina Rabusin, senior forward Jade Shively hit the post with a shot and sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Pratt controlled the carom and scored her first goal this season. “I thought that Jade had hit it in, but when I heard it hit the post I just turned and kicked it,” Pratt said. “We were pretty confident of winning after that and just wanted to finish the shutout.”
It took just 38 seconds for that confidence, and the lead, to grow a bit more as sophomore forward Tori Cruz scored her team-high 10th goal this season to seal the deal. “It was off a punt,” she said. “I won it out of the air, went in and put the ball in the corner. We beat Homer and lost to them last season. We wanted to be strong and win this one, since it’s the only time we play them this year.”
Cortland had a 12-2 shot advantage in the game, sophomore goalie Marissa Gilmore with the two saves needed to share the shutout with her defense. Asked about the difficulty of keeping her focus with such relative inactivity on a hot day, Gilmore said that “It’s a challenge; you have to keep your focus on the game and be ready for shots to come late. After the first goal we had some momentum and felt pretty confident; then we just kept scoring.
“The defense possessed the ball high up the field so I had lots of room to do what I needed to do. They shut down their attacking players.”
“Marissa does a good job of keeping the defense in the game,” Ryon said. “Kaitlyn played an excellent game, and so did Grace, (sophomore forward) Amaya Willis and (sophomore midfielder) Lillian Quick. Lillian is able to refocus and drive our team; she leads by example.”
Cortland also had a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks in the game, while Gugerty stopped four shots for the Trojans.
“Anna’s back there, always in the game, and is someone we depend on to talk to the girls and keep the team on the level, a steadying influence,” Osborne said. “I thought as a team we were able to find feet and work together; the whole team played well.
“I think the girls will come right back. We have Marcellus on Monday (in an OHSL Liberty American home game starting at 6 p.m.) and they need to focus and work hard.”
“This win will give us a good mindset going into our next game,” Ryon said, her team set to visit SCAC Empire opponent Auburn Monday at 6:30 p.m.
THE CORTLAND JVS beat Homer 3-0 to improve to 7-1-1 on the season as Ella Quick opened the scoring and assisted on a goal by Soleil Gutchess in the first half before Tora Edwards converted an assist from Liz Decker in the second half.
Decker was the first-half goalie and made one save while Gutchess stopped one shot in the second half as they shared the shutout, the Purple Tigers with a 25-4 shot advantage and a 2-0 edge in corner kicks.
The Cortland JVs visit Auburn Monday while on the same day Homer’s JVs host Marcellus, both kickoffs set for 4:30 p.m.