The Valley Central girls’ soccer team – with the exception of one game – has only done one thing this season: win.
The Vikings finished their first run through the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II schedule unbeaten, securing their spot in the Section 9 Class AA tournament with a 3-1 win over Pine Bush on Friday afternoon.
It was a game they came into with some anticipation as Pine Bush also entered the game unbeaten in the division, “A little bit due to their results and our results versus the other teams,” said sophomore Samantha Setteducato.
The Vikings set the tone early, punching Pine Bush in the mouth early as Mac Delmonico took a cross from Riley Schmidt and sent a high-arcing shot over the head of Pine Bush goalkeeper Grace Druke just three minutes into the game.
About 4 minutes after that, Hannah Stahl buried a ball sent into the box by Schmidt into the back of the net to give the Vikings all the scoring they would need for the game.
“It really motivated us to keep going and gave us a little push,” Setteducato said.
It gave Pine Bush a push as well, back onto their heels.
“We came out flat and they scored two goals in about seven minutes,” Pine Bush coach Dan Conley said. “The battle back from that is tough and the last 30 minutes of the half, we played pretty even with them.”
Then history repeated itself in the second half as Delmonico’s goal in the 43rd minute gave Valley Central a 3-0 lead.
“I thought we played well,” Valley Central coach Jon Walsh said. “They’re a tough team and they played well, too. The momentum shifted a bunch of times during the game, and we were able to stay settled and ride it out.”
Pine Bush made a late push toward the end of the game and got a late goal when Taylor Hoehmann lofted a shot over Valley Central goalkeeper Grace Suchy in the 65th minute.
About four minutes later, the Vikings committed a penalty inside the 18-yard box, but Ava Boffalo’s penalty kick went wide to the right.
“You got to keep fighting and you can’t dig yourself a hole,” Conley said. “We talked about how it’s a learning lesson. We lost to Monroe earlier and we learned some things and went and won some games that we haven’t traditionally won. We’ve got to learn from this game and get back on the winning side.”
The Vikings, meanwhile, served notice to the rest of Section 9 two days earlier when they knocked off the defending Section 9 Class AA champion Crusaders, 1-0, in an OCIAA crossover contest.
The Crusaders eliminated the Vikings from the Section 9 Class AA tournament last year, but Wednesday’s victory could help the Vikings clinch the top sectional seed if they keep winning.
“I think it validated everything we’ve been telling the girls,” Walsh said. “We’ve said all along if we play our game, we’re going to be dangerous, and we went out and we did that against another really good team. We just had to put it together.”