Trailing Valley Stream North by a goal, visiting Manhasset had the pressure knob turned up high throughout the second half of last Saturday’s Conference ABC-II girls’ soccer matchup but couldn’t manage to get the equalizer.
Behind a long first-half goal by senior Alanna McDougall, a solid defensive effort, and six saves from senior goalkeeper Jessie Sabal, the Lady Spartans stayed hot and tied atop the conference race with a 1-0 victory. McDougall’s goal, her fourth in seven games to go with seven assists, was a left-footed blast from 35 yards out and came at the 11:02 mark.
“This caps a big week for us,” coach Geoffrey O’Connell said after North upped its winning streak to three games and improved to 4-1 in ABC-II and 5-2 overall. “Manhasset’s a solid team and it was a back-and-forth game. We knew this would be a good test.”
Both keepers were tested throughout the afternoon. Sydney Blanche made 10 saves for Manhasset, which fell to 3-1 in conference play. Sabal’s biggest save came with 18 minutes remaining when she left her feet to stop a drive from Katherine Kelly.
“Our seniors are doing a great job of leading us,” said O’Connell, who has McDougall, Sarah Miller, TinaMarie Cassiano and Rebecca Brawley serving as captains. “So many of them have been on the team since eighth grade, so this is their fifth year on varsity. It’s great to have that kind of experience,” he added.
The veteran play of the defense was evident in the win over Manhasset, which pushed hard to get the tying goal that never came. Seniors Miller, Cassiano and Kristen Ray, along with junior Luci Ruddick, worked tirelessly in the second half to deny the Lady Indians. Miller and Cassiano were All-Class selections last season. “We’ve been solid in the back all year long,” O’Connell said. “Jessie’s doing a great job in goal. She’s a wall back there. She plays high level club ball and knows all the ins and outs of the position.”
The offense gave Sabal plenty of breathing room on Sept. 26 with a pair of first-half goals in North’s 3-1 victory at New Hyde Park. McDougall, who according to O’Connell is in the process of deciding on a college, had a goal and an assist. She set up senior Danielle Evangelista’s goal with one minute remaining in the opening half. Miller also scored off a pass from freshman Yamilee Eveillard, who has been a steady contributor at forward.
McDougall played the role of master distributor on Sept. 24 when the Lady Spartans rolled to a 5-0 victory over Carle Place. She assisted on every goal — two by Evangelista and one apiece by Eveillard, junior Kim Jelich and sophomore Tara Meehan.
Jelich, who picked up All-Conference honors a year ago, leads the midfield along with McDougall and Brawley.
Part two of the conference schedule begins Oct. 3 when North travels to Jericho.