CORTLAND — Almost everything about Tuesday night’s girls’ soccer game between the Cortland Purple Tigers and the Central Square Redhawks was even.
The shots were 24-23 Central Square. The corner kicks were 3-2 Redhawks. The possession and scoring chances were about even as well.
But the most important statistic — the score was anything but H.S. Girls’Soccer even. The Redhawks converted on their chances where the Purple Tigers did not, leading to a 5-0 Central Square victory at Cortland High.
Emma Hermann led the Redhawks with two goals and two assists, while Emerson Widowski added two goals of her own.
After a back-and-forth first nine minutes, Hermann got the only goal the Redhawks would need off a corner kick, taking advantage of the traffic from both teams in front of the net occupying Cortland goalie Lauren Mott (17 saves).
Less than two minutes later, Widowski scored off a feed from Hermann after Hermann drew two defenders towards her, leaving Widowski all alone.
Cortland’s best offensive opportunity came in the 13th minute when they were awarded a free kick 20 yards away from goal. Soleil Gutchess had the honors, but her kick bounced off the crossbar and down, and a tap-in attempt right on the goal line was smothered by Redhawks goalie Samantha Haley for one of her 11 saves.
Widowski earned her second goal in the 35th minute as her solo run forced Mott to come off her line to try to stop the ball, but she got past her and scored without any further trouble.
The Purple Tigers made some second-half adjustments, including switching Alex Gier and Val Gambitta’s positions to generate some offense. Their play and Gambitta’s composure and ability to win 50-50 balls did help create some opportunities, but the Redhawks’ back line was there to snuff them out before they could beat Haley.
Gutchess also made some adjustments of her own, as she was “done being pushed around,” as head coach Ilona Ryon put it, and started using her strength to muscle up with the Redhawk attackers.
“We could see that she wasn’t going to let anyone get in her way of firing off some powerful, long range shots,” Ryon said.”
Unfortunately, the Redhawks offense kept pouring it on, as Cora Keohane scored in the 53rd minute in a one-on-one situation with Mott, and Hermann picked up her second goal of the game in the 63rd minute heading in a corner kick.
Ryon said her team wasn’t at 100 percent, with some key players sitting out and others playing, but still nursing injuries from last week. But she lauded her team’s effort in light of the adversity.
Cortland senior captain Hannah Partigianoni returned to the lineup and applied good pressure against the Redhawks’ offense.
“[We] fought tooth and nail for every inch on the field,” Ryon said. “Despite not having played in a few weeks, Hannah didn’t hold anything back and made some great overlapping runs to receive the ball.”
Two junior varsity call-ups, Sarah Williams and MacKenna Bulger, got some playinng time, and Ryon said “it was great to see them playing at a high level with confidence.”
Ryon said she expects great things from Williams, Bulger and other girls “who are willing to put in the time in the off-season to become better players which in return helps us become a better program.”
The game was the home finale for the Purple Tigers. They wrap up their season at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Auburn.