Girls soccer: Poland shuts out South Range
By BOB ETTINGER
Poland girls soccer coach Joel Monaco is constantly reminding the Bulldogs to relax as they move the ball upfield before instructing them to find a striker.
Those reminders led to a methodical, yet almost surgical, attack in Monday’s 5-0 victory over South Range in Northeast Eight Conference action at Raiders Stadium.
“We picked up our skill from the beginning of the season,” Poland striker Molly Malmer said. “[Monaco] started to teach us some wrinkles.
“We were trying to make passes through the defensive line. We changed that and our skill level picked up. It gives us a better chance at goals and gives everyone a chance to move forward [on the attack].”
As Malmer explained, there’s a method to the madness in a sport that resembles chaos more often than not.
“In previous years, they tried to move fast, get the ball up the field as quickly as they could,” Monaco said. “We decided to slow it down and move the ball with methodical passes and see what the defense was giving us.”
The strategy paid off early for the Bulldogs (9-4-1, 7-2-1) as Carolyn Boccieri netted a goal in the second minute of the first half on an assist from Jackie Grisdale.
“A lot of teams play high lines and the offense is constantly offside if the defense knows what it’s doing,” Monaco said. “We’re rarely called offside.
“It’s a product of the defense not knowing how to handle it – do they go after the ball or the man? It’s very effective.”
Though not new to defending the Bulldogs’ attack, the South Range (7-6, 5-6) defense was consistently put in bad positions to defend.
“Our goalkeeper [Elizabeth Venesky] got put in a bind quite a bit tonight,” South Range coach Paul Lindstrom said. “All of the girls did, but it shows up more with the goalkeeper. [Poland] is a good, quality team. It can only help us get better in speed and strength playing a team like Poland.”
Grisdale followed with a goal on an assist from Malmer in which the offense moved the ball forward with short, accurate passes before Grisdale got the ball at her field about 30 yards out. She turned and tapped it back to Malmer, who chipped over the defense where Grisdale knocked it home in the 11th minute for a 2-0 Poland lead.
“That’s a prime example of [the offense] giving us a better chance at a goal,” Malmer said. “There’s less risk in that than me just taking the shot.”
Malmer made it 3-0 in the 33rd minute after she took the ball away from Veneskey, who was trying to play it with her feet, and tapped it into the net.
“We’re always trying to pressure the goalie,” Malmer said. “I noticed she was trying to play it with her feet. When I got closer, I realized she wasn’t going to pick it up.”
Mia Marantis added a goal in the second minute of the second half on assist from Grisdale before Eva Izenhour closed the scoring with a goal in the 33rd minute of the second half.