The Valley Central girls’ soccer team took an early lead on Pine Bush on a wet and rainy Friday afternoon, and rolled to a 5-0 win at EJ Russell Elementary School in Pine Bush.
“They played really well,” Valley Central coach Jon Walsh said. “I thought we did a really good job of executing the plan we had put in place. But we had to deal with weather like this throughout the season, so I think that kind of prepared us, but we executed really well.”
The Vikings showed off their balanced scoring attack by getting goals from five different players: Mackenzie Delmonico, Nickole Schmidt, Sophia Stahl, Ava Stahl and Jenna O’Connor. Delmonico and Schmidt each had an assist.
On the defensive side, Deanna Murdock made four saves.
The Vikings earned the top seed in the Section 9 Class AA playoffs and opened the tournament Sunday morning against fourth-seeded Warwick. The championship game was scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the home of the higher seed.
“I think we’re in a really good position right now,” Walsh said. “I think the girls have worked really hard, given the circumstances, to be in the best position to be in. We’ve had to adjust the way that we train to the schedule we have now, and they’ve adapted really well.”
Bayleigh Ardito made eight saves for Pine Bush, a young team that has struggled, only earning one win during this season.
Pine Bush finished with a 1-8 record. Their only win was a 3-0 win over Middletown last Thursday at Faller Field.
“We came out kind of flat,” Pine Bush coach Dan Conley said. “They’re going to the playoffs and we’ve been struggling, so the mindset was probably a little different. We came out flat, they scored, and then once we settled in, we played better toward the end.”
Both teams found themselves having to quarantine at one point in the season, both around Spring Break.
The Vikings were sent into a force break after their March 22 win over Middletown and returned April 6 to beat Newburgh, 5-0.
“I think we came out of it pretty well,” Walsh said. “I tried to keep us together. We did Google meets and little workouts just to keep everyone together, but it benefitted us that it was during our spring break as well.
I didn’t really feel like they were missing out on school and all the other stuff. When the girls came back, they were focused.”
Between illness and injury, Pine Bush found themselves down by about five starters. But even before that, Pine Bush used the shortened Fall 2 season as more of a method to evaluate what it could have in the Fall 2021 season.
Pine Bush is only graduating five seniors – Bayleigh Ardito, Elexis Smykla, Emma Ward, Alexandra Watkins, and Kayla Grassi.
“I don’t think we had a set starting lineups for various reasons,” Conley said. “Even when we did have all the kids, we tried them in different positions and played more like colleges do with their spring season and get a tune-up for August. We were still trying to be competitive in games, but experience was the more important thing, seeing where we’re moving and going forward.”