September 19, 2008


Rockets unable to upend Eagles


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
McGraw's Kaitelyn Leonard (2) fights for possession with DeRuyter's Tori Harris (9) in the first half of Thursday’s CCL soccer showdown. Leonard had three goals in McGraw’s 4-0 win.

Staff Writer

McGRAW — It doesn’t look like the McGraw Central girls’ soccer team is ready to vacate the Central Counties League throne any time soon.
Having won the CCL championship the last four years in a row, the Eagles served some early notice to would-be contenders Thursday, riding three goals by Kaitelyn Leonard to a 4-0 win over visiting DeRuyter in a battle of the league’s last two unbeaten teams.
Leonard, the lone full-time junior varsity call-up from the JV team on last season’s sectional Class D runner-up McGraw squad as an eighth-grader, had the best game of her varsity career with the pressure on.
“I think I worked harder today,” said the soft-spoken freshman forward, who has scored all seven of her goals this season in the last three games. “Coach yelled at me more. I also get a lot of encouragement from my mom (Gail) and brother (Billy). Mom is like my personal coach. I think when we scored the first two goals DeRuyter slowed down a little. They tried to get back up, but it took a little out of them.
“We’re working hard,” she added.  “We want to go to the sectional finals again — that’s one of our goals. We play hard against the teams like DeRuyter and Madison, the better teams.”
The Eagles, ranked fourth in the state among Class D schools, would have to be counted as one of those “better teams” as well. In their four league games they’ve scored 26 goals and haven’t given up any. Overall, they’ve notched 31 goals and allowed just two. Now 6-0 overall, McGraw was scored on once in each game en route to the championship of the Sherburne-Earlville Tournament last month.
“My defense is amazing,” said senior goalkeeper Chelsea Hayes when asked about her four-game shutout streak. “We’ve all played together for more than a year now, and I’ve played with the sweeper, (senior) Alicia Giamichael, since we were little kids. We know each other, and that’s a big key.
“The defense doesn’t let our opponents take many shots, and I like it, though it’s both good and bad. It’s hard to stay sometimes with only a few shots coming at you. Usually I get the most work in practice.”
McGraw coach Dave Law praised his defensive unit of Giamichael, senior Erin Patch, junior Jenna Tobias and junior Kelly Gilbert, the latter up from last year’s JV team. He also noted that with Leonard, junior Kierra Mack and senior Nicole Law (his daughter) up front, the Eagles have plenty of offensive firepower.
“I have so many options with my forwards,” he said. “We know people will target Nicole. After scoring 36 goals last year, they’ll remember her. Let them target her; I’ll use my other options.”
DeRUYTER COACH Tom Springer, who saw his team fall to 3-1 in the league and 4-3 overall, didn’t have as many options, largely due to health issues. “Carissa Clark (junior midfielder-forward) couldn’t play because of a knee injury, and three of our starters played but are sick,” he said. “Amber Schlafer (junior defender) is just back off a foot injury; our goalie, Kayla Hampton, has strep throat and Tory Harris (freshman defender) is playing with a pulled hamstring.
“It also seemed like we weren’t getting any calls,” he added. “ Morgan Mierke (senior forward) was taken down in the box, and nothing was called. That could have given us the first goal. There were also two handballs that weren’t called. It happens every year here.”
In fact, the game was played on the same field where McGraw wrapped up last year’s league title with a 3-1 win over the Rockets, the two teams entering that one tied for the top spot as well.
“We didn’t play our game,” Springer said of Thursday’s contest, “but it’s early, so it doesn’t matter. We’re a much better passing team than we showed today. We were just booting the ball to get rid of it. We’re also a young team; most of the girls who play all the time are sophomores.
“I thought that overall our front line and midfield did OK. We just didn’t pass the ball.”
Mack opened the scoring from McGraw, scoring her ninth goal of the season from just inside the box off a cross from Law 7:18 in. Leonard’s first tally, with 21:55 left in the first half off an assist from Mack, accounted for the 2-0 halftime score. She then took a pass from Tobias and lofted a shot over Hayes and under the crossbar 7:26 into the second half, and closed out the scoring on an unassisted tally, putting a lose ball home from close range with 6:57 remaining.
McGraw out-shot its visitors 15-6, and Hayes and Hampton each came up with six saves.
“I WAS WORRIED about DeRuyter,” Law said. “They’re a very well-rounded team. Tobias was the key to today’s game. She did a good job against (junior forward) Raechel Townsend, who I knew we had to stop. To hold DeRuyter to six shots — I’m so proud of our defense. We were ready for them.
“We told the girls at halftime that two goals wasn’t enough, and to score again in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They did, and put the game away.”
The Eagles play Worcester on Saturday and Milford on Sunday in a pair of 3 p.m. games in the Hall of Fame Tournament.
“DeRuyter and Cincinnatus are definitely the teams we want to play well against,” Hayes said. “But Worcester and Milford will be tough tests. We’re ready for the challenge.”
DeRuyter next plays on Tuesday at Stockbridge Valley.
Stockbridge Valley 3, Cincinnatus 0: Freshman forward Kelli Clark scored the Red Lions’ only goal off an assist from senior midfielder Jenn Randall 13 minutes into the second half as Cincy fell to 1-2 in the league and 2-3 overall.
Freshman Juanita Diaz made four saves in the visitors’ nets as the Cougars had a 12-7 shot advantage.
Cincy meets Milford at 11 a.m. Saturday and Worcester at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Hall of Fame Tournament.