Hillbillies’ offense powers past Golden Cougars in 4-1 win
SINCLAIRVILLE — The Falconer/Cassadaga Valley Golden Falcons girls soccer team began the second half of Wednesday’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association West Division game inspired, leveling the score with the undefeated Fredonia Hillbillies at 1-1 in the 46th minute.
The equalizing goal gave the Golden Falcons some momentum, but the Hillbillies were able to weather that storm as their offense began to finally bury the many chances being created. Second-half goals from Rylee Beers, Annie Gondek and Lila Cameron helped the Hillbillies remain unbeaten as they powered to a 4-1 victory.
“They came out strong. We knew they were going to come out and play hard and flip the field on us,” Fredonia head coach Daniel Tomaszewski said about the start of the second half. “We didn’t handle it as well as we could have or should have, but then we found our game and we were able to string some great passing together and convert on some opportunities.”
Fredonia’s first half was similar to the second, just without the flurry of goals. Aside from a few quick unsustainable chances, most of the action was on the Golden Cougars’ defensive side of the pitch. Once the first Hillbillies’ goal came from a Beers chip over the keeper, courtesy of a Gondek cross, it looked like the offense was going to begin painting the back of the net.
However, the ‘Billies were only able to score once in the half, despite plenty of prime opportunities. Around the 30th minute, Beers received another pass in the box and was able to step around Golden Cougars’ keeper Grace Lundmark for what seemed to be a sure goal, but as Beers fired the shot Golden Cougars’ defender Mary Lundmark was able to make the kick save to keep the score at 1-0.
“Our defense has been pretty strong all year, there was some breakdown in the second half,” Falconer/Cassadaga Valley head coach Brett Johnson said about the Golden Cougars’ defense. “They play tight in the middle and force things outside and it kept us in the game.”
Despite the immense pressure put on by the Fredonia offense, it was only 1-0 at halftime. During the break, Falconer/Cassadga Valley seniors Maddie Pitts, Grace Lundmark, Kaylie Main and Tess Spangenburg were honored in front of the crowd with their families.
“We have four seniors, they all have a pretty big role,” Johnson said about the Golden Cougars’ seniors. “Up top, Tess Spangenburg and our goalie, Grace Lundmark, are very big parts of what we do and if we have success, but Maddie Pitts and Kaylie Main if we need them are always there to do their parts well.”
The Golden Cougars looked like a different team to start the second half as they dominated the possession and put the pressure on the Fredonia defense. That pressure finally burst when Falconer/Cassadaga Valley’s Brailyn Paladino took a shot that went into the top left corner of the net, leveling the score at 1-1.
Falconer/Cassadga Valley continued to bring the pressure shortly after the goal, but it wasn’t sustainable as Fredonia’s offense felt the urgency to regain the lead. Fredonia broke the tie in the 59th minute on a familiar connection as Gondek once again made a pass to Beers who fired it past Lundmark for the 2-1 lead.
“Rylee Beers is just hard-nosed and she’s just got a motor and keeps working and working and working. Annie (Gondek) has that same drive, she has the ability to move the ball in tight space. And (during) our season Annie has been there from start up to this point and we have had many girls taking their turn to step up each game,” Tomaszewski said about his offense.
Shortly after the second Beers’ goal, Gondek netted one herself from Emma Patterson and the final goal from Cameron was assisted by Ella Koopman.
“I don’t think we could slow our girls down even if we tried,” said Tomaszewski. “That’s just how they are, that’s how they’re wired and that’s their mindset. We’ve got the girls who can do it, and when you can put the other team under pressure you force them into making more mistakes than normal. We try and do that and capitalize on those mistakes. We didn’t do a good enough job of that in the first half, but we made sure that we cleaned that up in the second half.”
With the win Fredonia improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the division while Falconer/Cassadaga Valley fell to 2-3-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the division.