October 18, 2021

Purple Tigers lose defensive battle

Katie Vartanian/contributing photographer

Cortland goalie Lauren Mott (90) makes a save against Auburn’s Peyton Maneri (23) as Maia Quick and Alex Gier, right, rush to help.

CORTLAND — The Auburn Maroons defeated the Cortland Purple Tigers, 2-0, in girls’ soccer action Saturday morning in a game controlled by the defenses.

Sydney Marinelli got the Maroons on the board as she took advantage of pressure on the Cortland back line, who were unable to get the ball out of their defensive third, resulting in the only goal the Maroons would need.

“Auburn’s speed and physicality aided in their victory,” Cortland head coach Ilona Ryan said. “Cortland looked slow in the beginning and struggled to connect passes in an attacking direction. Auburn looked for the through ball to [Marinelli] on multiple occasions.”

Grace Oliver tacked on the second goal in the 47th minute as she fired a shot from a tough angle at the edge of the box. Despite a leapinig outstretched effort from goalie Lauren Mott, it deflected off her glove and into the net.

Despite the loss, there were clear signs of improvement in the Purple Tigers. Crisp ball movement, good offensive chances, winning 50-50 balls and the back line holding off some Maroon attacks took the pressure off Mott, who had another double-digit save effort with 18 stops.

“Caleigh Chase, Alex Gier, Maia Quick and Val Gambitta did their best to hold a high line, which paid off because it put their players in an offsides position several times,” Ryan said. “During the second half, [we] did better at winning some 50-50 balls in the air. Maddie Constantino did well heading the ball and not backing down from the opponents. Soleil Gutchess worked tirelessly in the center mid trying to give us some long balls and defended well by playing tight defense on Auburn. “

Cortland’s ability to snuff out chances close to the goal resulted in them conceding just two corners on the match, one in each half.

“Auburn could have had a few more opportunities at goal with their long through balls, but Maia used her speed and fierce competitiveness to deny them,” Ryan said. “As the game went on, Caleigh had some nice serves towards goal… Val’s aggressiveness and willingness to fight for 50-50 balls helped keep some pressure off of Lauren.”

Cortland’s next game is Wednesday afternoon at home against Central Square.