Immediately after a preseason that saw hot and dry weather, the Valley Central and Wallkill girls’ soccer teams took the field in the steadiest rainstorm in the area for their first game of the 2022 season.
The Vikings got two first-half goals, which was enough for them to post a 4-1 victory over the Panthers on Sept. 6 at Robinson Field.
“It was definitely way faster than we’re used to because it’s turf, but it’s also raining,” Valley Central forward Mac Delmonico said. “That made it twice as fast, but I feel like we did very well.”
The Vikings scored early, picking up a goal in the game’s first few minutes, and then added a second in the last two minutes of the first half.
After Valley Central’s Samantha Setteducato sailed a shot wide to the right of the goal, Delmonico hit a cross from the left post past Wallkill goalkeeper Madelyn Jachimiak. Setteducato crashed the ball just as it was about to pass the right post and tucked it directly inside for the Vikings’ second goal of the game.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Valley Central coach Jon Walsh said. “We were able to start building up our attack pretty quick from the back. We were able to combine and put balls together and get to their back line.”
The back line had been a concern for the Panthers heading into the season, as that was where most of their graduation losses came from after the 2021 season. While Jachimiak returned in the net, most of the Panthers’ defense is new.
“We were struggling to find our positions at this point in the season,” Wallkill coach Kelly Wood said. “We worked hard in the preseason. We lost our whole defense last year, so we’re still trying to figure out who can replace some of those girls. Valley Central played really well. They were able to do pretty much what they wanted with the ball at any given moment.”
The Panthers had a few offensive opportunities, and finally converted in the 59th minute when Alex Dembinsky broke through the defense along the left side and converted on the Panthers’ first goal of the season to cut the lead in half.
“Only having a one-goal lead, we obviously wanted to make it a bigger lead,” Delmonico said. “So, I feel like we started working a little harder to get those next few goals.”
Those next two goals came quickly.
Four minutes after Dembinsky’s goal, Delmonico had an opportunity, but her shot along the left post went wide right.
However, in the 65th minute, Lorena Rivera’s goal restored the Vikings’ two-goal lead, and then two minutes after that, Delmonico took the ball past everybody to post the Vikings’ fourth goal.
“I think we definitely came out more as a group than we did last year, which I think automatically put us off to a better start,” Delmonico said. “I feel we communicated well, and we played better.”
They finished the week battling Goshen to a 2-2 tie on Thursday. Setteducato and Adeline Galante scored for the Vikings. Emma Duffy and Riley Horn scored for the Gladiators.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are still searching for some of the answers as to who will fill difficult spots; and there was no let-up the next day when the Panthers hosted the Washingtonville Wizards, another tough Class AA test.
The Panthers won that game, 1-0.
They finished the week with a 1-0 road win over FDR on Friday.
“They know I pick difficult teams to play in the first few games before we get into our conference portion of the season,” Wood said. “We spoke after the game that effort is always number one, and they gave effort tonight. We talked about the few things that we’re going to work on, and we’ll work on things from there.”