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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 16, 2010

Voorheesville Lady Birds dominate Tigers in first soccer game of season

By Jordan J. Michael

COHOES –– Sometimes one team has superiority over another. This usually results in a lopsided score.

The Voorheesville girls’ soccer team was the superior force on Friday at Cohoes in its first game, winning 8 to 1. Senior striker Caitlin Abelseth scored three goals for the Lady Birds as the Tigers failed to respond.

“We have a really good team this year,” said Abelseth, who is spending her fourth season with the Birds. “Almost everyone is back and we’ve been playing together for a long time.”

Seniors Michaela Conway and Alex Fasulo are also going into their fourth year with Voorheesville; and senior Mackenzie Blake; sophomore Hannah Brackett; and juniors Emily Blow, Jenn Cillis, and Eryn Ryan are into their third season.

When Abelseth, Conway, and Fasulo were freshman, the team won only three games. The Lady Birds have come a long way since then.

“We have veterans now,” said Head Coach Joe Santos. “They’ve put the time and effort in during the off-season. We have a strong group of girls.”

Brackett, Ryan, Emily Cole, Chelsea Duncan, and Caroline O’Rourke each had one goal against Cohoes. Duncan’s goal came off a strange bounce after a corner kick and that made the score 6 to 0 in the second half.

Abelseth said that her team started off “slow,” but that all changed when Abelseth scored on two consecutive breakaways within four minutes of each other in the first half. “We started to connect on passes,” she said.

Despite being up 6 to 0, Santos reacted strongly when Cohoes scored its lone goal on a confusing play. The crossbar of the soccer goal was under a field-goal crossbar and the Tigers’ Kyleigh Roby bounced her shot off the field-goal post; the rebound was put in by Talyor Carey. Roby’s shot was out of play, but the goal stood, and Santos threw banter at the refs.

Even with a big lead, Santos commands the Lady Birds. He’s a persistent coach who thrives for perfection from his players. Santos is all business, but sometimes he spits hilarious comments from the sideline.

For example, when Emma Simpson got barreled over by Cohoes’ Ashley Dessignue, Santos referred to bullfights in his native Portugal. “The bullfighter usually has a cape,” he said to the refs after the penalty.

“I never let up, even though we’re up big,” Santos said after game. “We have to keep focus at all times. It’s about playing well the whole game and learning from mistakes.”

Santos told The Enterprise that Voorheesville was hurrying the ball forward, but he wants his players to move the ball sideways across the field.

“We’re running right at the opponent, but we should be using the width of the field,” said Santos. “You go forward by going sideways. It’s a strange concept, but it makes sense. It spreads the field.”

Even though the Lady Birds weren’t using the width of the field properly, in their coach’s view, the team still scored eight goals and controlled possession. “We have lots of speed and great passing,” Santos said. “Beautiful through balls. I’m quite pleased.”

Abelseth was satisfied, too, with the way the team started the season, but knew tougher competition was coming with a home game against Holy Names on Tuesday. In that game, Emily Blow scored the only goal for a 1-to-0 win, Voorheesville’s first victory over Holy Names in four years.

Voorheesville looks to continue its winning ways today at Ravena at 4 p.m. After beating Holy Names, anything is now possible.

“We expect big things after three years of solid work,” Santos said on Friday. “Hopefully, it’ll pay off.”

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