High School Girls Soccer: Hamburg gets out to 8-2 start, freshman Daly now with 21 goals
The attitude and play of Hamburg has made this a fun and rewarding first season for new head coach Jen Bagley.
The Bulldogs are not only 8-2, they’re also a friendly, respectful group that the former varsity assistant joked is drama free. So far, Hamburg’s been a coach’s dream.
“The girls have really come together; we’re like a family,” said Bagley, who assisted Bruce Mitchell the past several years before taking over the varsity after his retirement. “The girls are meshing on and off the field. I kind of stepped in knowing them and they’ve showed me that they’re a team. They’re all working together.”
Also helping make this such a positive experience has been the emergence of freshman forward Kara Daly, who scored all four goals in Hamburg’s 4-2 win over Starpoint on Monday (Oct. 1) to up her team-leading total to a remarkable 21 in 10 games.
Daly’s provided the necessary offense to a team that graduated two of its top scorers and lost a third, junior Jessie Smith, to an ACL injury. She may have begun to make a name for herself last year if not for a season-ending ankle injury that cost Daly her eighth grade season.
“It was tough at first to be a freshman on varsity,” said Daly, who played with the junior varsity as a seventh grader and after recovering from the injury last year, was able to play for her club team, Buffalo Soccer Academy. “I was pretty nervous and didn’t know how it was going to go but it’s turned out pretty well so far.”
Bagley was worried about her freshman forward going into the first game but only had to watch her in that initial action of the season to have those fears quelled.
“I was nervous at the beginning of the year because she’s a small girl,” Bagley said. “I was hoping she wouldn’t get pushed off the ball, but the first game, she came out and was the one pushing girls off the ball. She’s strong and has got a knack for the game.”
Bagley, a former All-Western New York player who went on to the Division I level at the University at Buffalo, heaped high praise on Daly, especially for someone who’s been around the game at such a high level.
“She can finish the ball,” Bagley said. “I’ve never seen someone at her age who finishes like she can. She’s just got a knack for the net.”
Bagley also enjoys watching the play and energy of senior midfielder Jenna Smolinski, who’s been a starter since her freshman season. The playmaking captain is second on the team in points.
“Jenna controls the middle of the field and she’s all over the place,” Bagley said. “She’s our leader on and off the field.”
Junior Abbey Piccillo has stepped in on the back line in the absence of senior co-captain Autumn Padovani, who’s been battling a sickness.
Senior Allie Izzo has shown her athleticism and ability as a first-year varsity starter in goal.
Along with their freshman sensation Daly, the Bulldogs also play four sophomores among the regulars in the lineup.
“I thought we’d really be competitive but they’ve also stepped it up a lot,” Bagley said. “We’ve been real competitive in every game. I’m excited for what’s head.
Hamburg is now 5-2 in ECIC Division II, losing only a pair of 2-1 games, in overtime to Williamsville South and on a game-winning goal in the final minute of the game against Williamsville East.
The Bulldogs will get a rematch with both in consecutive games late in the season, Oct. 13 at South and Oct. 16 hosting East.
“We were doing really well and were 6-0 until the games against the Williamsville teams,” Daly said. “Hopefully we come back and beat those teams.”
“We know we can play with any team, so we’re ready to see them again,” Bagley said.
Lake Shore falls 3-1
Lake Shore fell 3-1 to Amherst after playing to an even one apiece first half on Sept. 25. Cassie Kij was the lone goal scorer on an assist from Melanie Linsmair. Nikki Clark played the first half in net and Carley Martin played the second, making eight tough saves.
The defensive group of Alexis Cvetanovich, Jessica Losel, Danielle Kabel and Juliana Norton played tough throughout the game. The midfielders and forwards made some great runs down the field and delivered a number of impressive shots on the Amherst goalie. This hard-working group included Linsmair, Kij, Hayley Hammer, Josilyn Benton, Kelsey Eggleston, Ashley Kerr and Kelcie McMillan.
Frontier JV pulls out ‘W’
The Frontier Girls JV Soccer team put an exclamation point on the weekend’s homecoming festivities with a spirit field overtime victory against rival West Seneca West 3-2 on Sept. 28. Demonstrating a fresh attitude and style of play under the tutelage of new coach, Ian Calder, Frontier scantly resembled the squad that fell to the Indians on Sept. 5.
Midfielder Juliana Pellicano finished the game winner following a shot by Marley Gleason that rang off the crossbar. Frontier made it through the duration of overtime with strong defensive play from center midfielder Katrina Lissistschenko, along with Kara Kryszczuk, and Laura Jankowski.
Frontier opened the scoring midway through the first half on a goal from Jaime LaCourse. Gleason set up the play, finding midfielder Maia Kozak who froze a defender and slotted the ball to a waiting LaCourse. Tied at one apiece, the contest seemed destined for overtime until the Indians scored what seemed to be a heartbreaking goal for a 2-1 lead a full 10 minutes after the half was to end.
However, the Falcons would then use the extra time on the clock to manufacture a dramatic last minute charge of their own to tie the score. Amanda Zablonski controlled a tip in front of the cage and combined with Gleason and a fortuitous deflection to tie the game off a ripped shot from Kozak from about 25 yards out.