Never mind the loss of YAIAA Division 3 Player of the Year Naia Roberts to graduation.
The powerhouse Fairfield girls’ soccer program looks as if it’s going to keep on rolling.
The Knights, with surgeon-like precision, picked apart York Catholic to the tune of a 5-0 victory on Tuesday night to give the visiting Irish their first division loss of the year.
“I think our defense did a great job and I thought we did a good job passing the ball up the side, passing the ball up the middle, and making sure no girls are dribbling at their defense, but that we’re working the ball around,” Fairfield coach Owen Phelan said of the win.
In the early going, it was York Catholic (2-1 in Y-3, 4-2 overall) which looked the aggressor. The Irish control play for much of the first five minutes and tested Knights’ goalkeeper Sofia Orndorff, who was resolute in her duties.
That’s when Fairfield (3-0, 3-0) began to grab a foothold in the game. First, it was Emma Dennison who saw her glancing header off a corner kick just clear the crossbar. Then it was freshman Karina Miller, who hit a sweetly struck free kick right into the arms of York Catholic goalkeeper Leah Gaito.
Ultimately, however, it was Dennison who made the breakthrough as she found the top corner of the net with a strike from 18 yards out to put the hosts up 1-0 with 26:57 to play in the opening half.
“Last year, we played a lot through the middle of the field. And I think this year we’re playing more to the outsides, on both sides, not just mine,” Dennison said of her increased role this season. “If I can take a girl one on one and I know that, I’m going to do it.”
It took just over 10 minutes for the Knights to double their lead, as Therese Phelan found herself unmarked in the middle of the Irish penalty box and poked the ball home, making it 2-0 with 16:45 left in the half.
Finally, it was Fairfield striker Breana Valentine who proved a nuisance all night for the York Catholic backline, making it 3-0 with 2:43 remaining in the half after a Knights’ set piece.
“Breana is certainly one of our strongest player,” Phelan said of Valentine after the game. “The nice thing about Breana is that she’s very physically strong. She’s big, she’s powerful, but she’s also a smart player and savvy and thinks about where she wants to be on the field in order to get her own shots off, but also to help other people.”
Shortly after the halftime break, Valentine had a chance to put the game to bed, but her chance went begging as she skied a shot over the cross. Moments later, however, she got another chance, and this time she didn’t miss. On a corner kick from Sarah Nagy, Valentine found the ball in the box and bundled it home, pushing the lead out to 4-0 with 31:18 left in the contrest.
Miller would add a fifth goal midway through the final half and the Fairfield defense helped see out its second clean sheet in three games to seal the 5-0 victory.
“It was super important,” Fairfield defender Honey Strosnider said of keeping the shutout. “We knew coming into this game that York Catholic was a great opponent. They’ve always been a good game for us and we really wanted to come out here and get a shutout.”
The Knights will hit the road looking to maintain momentum Thursday when they travel to another Y-3 foe, Littlestown. That game is set to kick at 5 p.m.
Contact Clay Sauertieg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfield 5, York Catholic 0
York Catholic 0 0 — 0
Fairfield 3 2 — 5
Goals: F-Breana Valentine 2, Emma Dennison, Therese Phelan, Karina Miller. Assists: F-Audrey Chesko. Shots: YC-6; F-16. Saves: YC-Gaito, Siegman 10; F-Sofia Orndorff 4. Corners: YC-0; F-6.