By TIM CLEVELAND
After rolling to the Division II regional final last season, the Canfield High girls soccer team looks strong enough to do at least as well in 2013.
In their first two games, the Cardinals defeated Boardman 4-1, then added a 10-0 drubbing Wednesday night over an out-gunned Poland team at Bob Dove Field.
“Attack is one of the areas we’re strong in this year,” Canfield coach Phil Simone said. “I think locally in Division II we’ve got one of the strongest teams.”
Poland coach John Cavalier said his team tried a tighter defense, but to no avail.
“We tried to mark them tighter,” he said. “This is the best team in the area. They always move without the ball. They taught us a good lesson tonight.
“We were trying to push them offsides a lot. The reason I pushed them up is if we marked tight and disturbed them off the ball a little bit, I felt we could stay in the game with a team like this.”
It was all Canfield, all the time from the opening kickoff. The Cardinals scored three goals in the first 10:37 of the game, with the standout being Bailey Fischer.
The junior raced past the defense time and time again, assisting on the first goal of the game, then she scored two of her own in the first half, at 29:23 and 19:40. She added a third for a hat trick with 36:21 left in the game.
“It wasn’t the best performance, but we worked together well and pushed up the field and it worked in my favor to get the three goals,” Fischer said. “The outside’s always wide open and I try and get out there as much as I can and take advantage of the space.”
Fischer was second for Canfield (2-0, 1-0 All-American Conference, American Division) last season with 16 goals and scored her first three in 2013 against Poland.
“They were playing an offsides trap pushing up,” Simone said. “She doesn’t look fast but she motors. If you give her the space she can really put you behind.”
The Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1) were overmatched on both sides of the ball. Their rare offensive attacks disappeared into the black hole that was Canfield’s defense, while their defense was consistently beaten by the Cardinals’ rushes.
Paige Bidinotto scored Canfield’s final goal of the first half for a 5-0 lead, then scored again with 28:27 remaining to push the advantage to 8-0. She has a team-high four goals after leading the team with 18 last year.
“Paige is our leading scorer returning from last year,” Simone said. “Paige always brings her A game. She always works hard and earns every goal that she gets.”
Canfield faces what will surely be its sternest test on Saturday when the Cardinals host Walsh Jesuit, the team that ended Canfield’s 2012 season in the regional final and went on to win state. Simone couldn’t overstate the challenge his team will face.
“We’ve got Walsh coming to town,” he said. “We’ll see how we stack up against the state’s best.”