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Brockport girls’ soccer drops season opener

Brockport’s Ella Fadale (#14) protects the ball from Pittsford Mendon’s Kate Hennessey (white jersey) while Nadia Nealon (#24) watches. (Photo credit: Paul Cifonelli)

By Paul Cifonelli / Co-Editor-in-Chief

Pittsford Mendon’s and Brockport’s girls’ soccer teams are used to playing tight games with each other. All seven meetings between them since 2017 has either been a one-goal game or a tie. Thanks to Grace O’Hara’s game-winning goal with eight minutes left, the Vikings (1-0-0) escaped Brockport with a 2-1 victory and moved to 3-2-2 against the Blue Devils (0-1-0) in the last four seasons.

O’Hara’s breakaway goal came just eight minutes after Brockport tied the contest at one and was a sign of a momentum change for the remainder of the contest. The Vikings maintained possession for a majority of the final eight minutes and sealed their first victory of the season.

Pittsford Mendon also got a goal from Kiran Brent just under a minute into the game. Brent’s goal was assisted by O’Hara and occurred before Brockport had any real possession of the ball. The goal helped the Vikings get their season started out right and gave them confidence early on.

“First-minute goals, they obviously set the tone for the game,” Pittsford Mendon head coach Eric Pritchard said. “We stress being successful in the first and last five minutes of the half. So when you go out there and score in the first five, it sets the tone and allowed us to control the game.”

The Vikings controlled the ball for the first 15 minutes of the game, then the Blue Devils began mounting some offense. The two teams went back and forth, with Brockport getting a majority of the scoring chances late in the half.

The beginning of the second half was also controlled by the Blue Devils. However, with about 27 minutes left in the second half, the Vikings were awarded a penalty kick and a Brockport player received a red card. Brockport goalkeeper Emma Sodoma made a diving save on O’Hara’s PK to keep Brockport’s deficit at one. Pritchard noticed his team was affected by the momentum swing of the missed penalty.

“Usually if you don’t score your PK there’s a mental change in the players,” Pritchard said. “They drop their level because they’re disappointed they didn’t score.”

Despite playing with one less player, Brockport kept the pressure on and Maija Young and Nadia Nealon forced Pittsford Mendon goalkeeper Ary Lougher to make difficult saves. Eventually, with 16 minutes to go, Ella Fadale found the back of the net on a breakaway to knot the game at one.

After Fadale’s goal, the ball control and possession evened out again until O’Hara put away the game-winner. The Vikings’ apparent change after the game was tied up was good for their coach to see.

“I liked the way our team handled the pressure and the goal scored against us,” Pritchard said. “They came back and put the pressure back on them for the last 10 minutes or so and got the goal that they needed.”

With the win, Pittsford Mendon picked up a big tiebreaker advantage in this truncated season. The Vikings’ next game will be at home against Canandaigua on Monday, while Brockport will travel to Pittsford Sutherland on Monday.

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