Panthers edge New Paltz, 1-0

By Mike Zummo
Posted 9/21/22

The Wallkill girls’ soccer team wasn’t sure coming into their contest against the New Paltz Huguenots.

Common opponents weren’t exactly in their favor as the Panthers entered the …

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Panthers edge New Paltz, 1-0

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The Wallkill girls’ soccer team wasn’t sure coming into their contest against the New Paltz Huguenots.

Common opponents weren’t exactly in their favor as the Panthers entered the game, fresh off a two-goal loss to the Saugerties Sawyers, who in turn beat the Huguenots by four goals.

Turns out it didn’t matter, as Lainey Flanagan scored two second-half goals, lifting the Panthers to a 2-1 victory over New Paltz on Thursday night in a Mid Hudson Athletic League Division I contest.

“This was a really big win considering the stats against how they beat Saugerties, and we just lost to them unfortunately,” Flanagan said. “The team came into this, not expecting to win, but hoping. The fact that we were able to work together was amazing for me.”

The Panthers had the better of the opportunities in the first half but were unable to put the ball in the back of the net until the 54th minute, when Gabriela Salese took a corner kick from the right side.

She sent the ball into the penalty box, where Flanagan took the kick and redirected it past New Paltz goalkeeper Annika Walsh, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

“I like to connect with Gabriella when she takes the corners,” Flanagan said. “So, I gave her a little thumbs up, and then she runs back and kicks it in. I just moved back, checked the ball, and I was like, ‘please go in.’”

It went in, and after nearly 65 minutes of knocking on the door the Panthers finally had their lead.

“That really gave us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the game,” Flanagan said. “That really brought our heads up to finally score.”

They got even more confidence about 13 minutes later, when Flanagan launched a shot from about 25 yards out into the top right corner of the net.

“She’s a striker; she’s a killer,” Wallkill coach Kelly Wood said. “When she gets alone, she can generally finish. She’s our finisher, for sure.”

Despite Flanagan’s two goals, the win was preserved by the Panthers’ developing defense and goalkeeper Madelyn Jachimiak. The Huguenots had the first opportunity to score, and she went one-on-one with New Paltz striker Malana Douglas, but Jachimiak dove on the ball to win the exchange.

“MJ is literally a rock star,” Flanagan said. “She is the glue to this team. She’s really good.”

And fearless.

Where many goalies would be content to pick up the ball, she runs into traffic and launches the ball toward the opposite side of the field.

“She’s probably the best goalie this place has seen in 20 or 25 years,” Wood said. “She’s smart. She’s got the whole package. She’s a great, great teammate. The whole nine yards.”

The win completed the Panther’s first run through the MHAL Division I schedule, finishing 2-1. They also beat the FDR Presidents 1-0 on Sept. 9. Thursday night gave them a template for victory going forward into the rest of the season.

“This can be our game,” Wood said. “We can move the ball up the field without just trying to dump it to the strikers or into the wings. We can actually possess the ball up the field. New Paltz lacked scoring chances tonight, but they always have a good defense. The fact that we could get in on them gives me hope that we can build on this.”

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