December 6, 2021

ESM spoils Purple Tigers’ Senior Night

Katie Vartanian/contributed photo

Cortland freshman Lauren Mott stops a shot by East Syracuse-Minoa’s Leah Rehm (5) while Cortland’s Alex Gier, far right, defends.

CORTLAND — Tuesday’s season opener for the Cortland Purple Tigers girls’ soccer team doubled as their Senior Night.

The Senior Night ceremony ended up being one of the few highlights of the night for the home team.

The East Syracuse-Minoa Spartans hung six on the Purple Tigers, including a hat trick from eighth-grade striker Leah Rehm, in a 6-0 shutout victory at Cortland High.

Rehm opened the scoring in just the third minute when a failed clearance gave her an opportunity to trickle the ball past the diving save attempt of Cortland freshman goalie Lauren Mott.

In the 27th minute, senior Abby Hudgins took a prayer of a shot from 30 yards out, but the wind carried the ball into an awkward angle, and on one hop it was in the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage.

ESM controlled the ball in the Cortland half of the field for about three-quarters of the first half. And yet even with the teams switching sides and ESM now shooting into the wind, the party was just getting started for the Spartans.

Five minutes into the second half, the Spartans had already registered four shots on goal. Mott stopped the first three, but the fourth came off a ricochet back to Rehm for her second tally.

The fourth ESM goal came in transition from a save by ESM goalie Isabelle Chavoustie to a ripper from 25 yards out by Angelina Polcaro.

Natalie Peterson scored in the 57th minute and Rehm completed her hat trick in the 65th to put the cap on a dominating effort.

“ESM was playing fast, aggressive soccer and dominating every ball in the air,” Cortland head coach Ilona Ryan said. “We struggled to connect passes because we were not in good angles of support and not able to find the relief pass soon enough. Our first touch was not clean and often led us right back into pressure.”

The final shot totals: ESM 15, Cortland 3. The Spartans (1-0) could have had even more, were it not for six saves by Mott – some at a high degree of difficulty.

Her most impressive play came in the 19th minute when Chavoustie (three saves) booted a clearance with the wind about 70 yards, giving her striker a chance to slip by the defense. But Mott dove and slid in front of the ball to snuff out that chance, earning an ovation from the Cortland faithful.

“Lauren has done an incredible job stepping into the role as starting goalkeeper,” Ryon said. “She did a great job coming off her line tonight. We have several players in new roles this year and I could see they were starting to find their groove by the end of the game.”

The Purple Tigers (0-1) host Oswego Thursday at 6 p.m.

Ryon has identified some spots where her girls can improve for the next test.

“Our first touch has to be away from pressure and with our body facing the direction we want to go,” she said. “We also need to be more aggressive with each other during practice and look to swing the ball from side to side as we attack. At times, we just tried sending the ball up with no one near that space.”