Black Knights cap season with win over North Collins
SILVER CREEK — The Silver Creek/Forestville Black Knights may have gotten off to a slower start to the season, but they have seemingly corrected themselves. Thursday night, the Black Knights took down the North Collins Lady Eagles 1-0, capping off their regular season with a three-game winning streak.
“It’s the third game in a row we are finally playing with the effort, skill level, and soccer I.Q. that I expected coming into the season,” said Black Knights coach Kevin Rice. “We showed glimpses of it on and off, it was a bumpy first two thirds of the season, but it’s all finally starting to come together.”
The Black Knights’ late season surge has come against some stiff competition. The winning streak started strong when the Knights handed the Westfield/Brocton Lady Wolverines their first loss of the season, followed by knocking off Pine Valley, both of which came on the road, before Thursday’s home win over North Collins.
The game started pretty even, as both teams fought to maintain possession out of the gate, with a majority of the first few minutes being played in the North Collins end. As the game went on, that continued to be the trend, but the Knights didn’t really have any quality scoring chances until the very end of the half when Myah Gabel made her first big save of what ended up being several big saves.
“That girl stood on her head today,” Rice said. “She made probably five really quality saves, but we expect that from her. She’s a three-year veteran, she’s going to play like that. With an average keeper in their net, we probably win by four or five. She was literally outstanding.”
The Black Knights made some necessary half time adjustments, as while they did dominate possession in the first half, they cranked up the intensity level in the second half.
“I thought we had pretty good control for most of the game, but in the first half we wanted to get rid of it too quick,” Rice said. “But in the second half we were a little more patient and found feet when there were feet to find.”
About half way through the second half, the Black Knights patience finally payed off as Jaylah Cossin finally broke through on what was a shot of opportunity.
“We sent a good through ball and had an initial shot, which was saved,” Rice said. “But it rebounded off and clunked around a little bit and had another shot which didn’t even get to the keeper, but the ball bounced off a defender and landed right next to Jaylah (Cossin) who found a spot Gabel wasn’t covering.”
After that goal, to make it 1-0, was when the Black Knights really put it into gear. They peppered Gabel with shot after shot, and Gabel made save after save trying to keep her team in the game. Gabel was up to the task, keeping the game close, but Silver Creek/Forestville’s way of holding the lead was to keep the pressure on. That pressure is something Rice tries to work with his girls on.
“It’s a strategy for us that instead of 120 yards, if we win balls in the center then we shrink the field,” said Rice. “If we do that, we don’t panic. They go back on their heels and we can maintaing control.”
One other condition that played a factor in Thursday’s game was the condition of the field. Thanks to the rain, it was essentially a mud pit, and the swirling wind can make conditions difficult, though those conditions don’t just impact one team.
“The field impacts both sides,” Rice said. “You never know when a girl is going to slip, and with the wind the way it is, you never know when the ball is going to hold up in the air. It certainly adds a layer of challenge.”
Because of their hot streak, the Black Knights will find themselves with a home playoff game, though it may not be played at Silver Creek High School.
“We are going to get a home game,” Rice said. “I’m not sure if I’ll want to play with the weather, so Dunkirk may give us an opportunity to play on the turf.”
If the Black Knights play at home in Silver Creek, the game will be at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and if it is at Dunkirk, start time will be 6:30 p.m.