Schalmont is looking for a special end to its 2022 women’s football season

ROTTERDAM – There can be a large collection of athletes who wear the same uniform who just don’t fit in well for whatever reason. When it comes to the Schalmont 2022 women’s varsity soccer team, excellence and cohesion have often worked hand in hand this season.

Beyond the camaraderie the team displays on and off the field, the results show that the bond on the field is there as the Sabers recorded assists on 77 of the team’s 96 goals.

“I think we’ve had really good chemistry this season and we’re all family – we’re all best friends,” Schalmont senior midfielder Simone Cassano said. “I think every day we come to training and work extremely hard. We all have the same common goal that we want to win. We want to go all the way.”

“Being close has helped us in the most difficult games because we are always together. We don’t fight and we don’t get angry with each other,” said Schalmont second-year striker Gianna Cirilla. . “It’s something that’s very important to us. We help each other and you see that with the assists and where we are at as a team.”

“I think the biggest thing that sets us apart is that we’re a family. We really support each other no matter what and we constantly encourage each other,” Schalmont senior defender Mia Defayette said. “I think that really describes us: we strive to play together as a family. It’s the first thing we want to do in every game. It’s the closest team I’ve ever been in. We “We’re all best friends. We’re all family, which I think is different from other teams.”

Schalmont manager Ryan Fries has marveled at how this season’s side have grown together. Even though last year’s team won a Section II Class B championship, the 2022 edition could be in line for even better post-season exploits.

“We emphasize the little things and try to do them well. Sometimes that’s easier said than done because they’re high school kids. This team is passionate,” Fries said. “They work well together and have a strong relationship. It’s part of the team, building those relationships and trusting each other. I would say this team exceeded my expectations.”

The Sabers will enter the Section II Class B tournament with an overall record of 14-2, including a 14-0 performance in Colonial Council play. The state’s No. 1-ranked team suffered back-to-back losses in September in the New York State Women’s High School Football Hall of Fame Tournament. Losses to Garden City (5-1, No. 6 Class A) and Nichols (5-2, No. 5 Class B) proved beneficial. Schalmont has since beaten their opponent 66-6 during an 11-game winning streak.

“I think it was great competition for us,” said Cassano, who had 21 goals and 22 assists. “We not only learned something about other teams, we learned something about ourselves and we were able to grow from this competition. We made changes with our team and were able to do better with our own season. .”

“We saw how other teams could play and what we could do and achieve,” Cirilla said. “Right after that we picked up our game. Playing better competition always prepares you for stronger teams at the end of the season.”

Cirilla, in her second season in college, leads the team with 30 goals and 10 assists. The smooth sophomore is quick and sneaky at the top. Often the player setting it up is Cassano, a fifth-year college star who isn’t committed to college.

“Just their ability to see and find each other shows they have strong chemistry,” Fries said. “Their footballing IQ and natural instincts are positive for us and for the team.”

“I play with her and she plays with me. We get along really well,” Cassano said. “When we work together, it’s unstoppable.”

“We have a sisterly relationship. It’s so much fun. We joke around all the time, but we can be serious when we need to,” Cirilla said. “We have such a connection. We know where the other will be on the pitch. We don’t have to look up: we just know how everyone thinks and how we play together.”

Sophomore Abigail Hughes is third on the team with 15 goals and nine assists. Senior midfielder Annalize Tyler, also captain, had 10 goals and seven assists. Other top contributors include senior Meg Lasher (eight goals, nine assists), second Emily Parrella (three goals, five assists) and second Addison Shultes (two goals, seven assists).

Key defensive players operating in front of senior goaltender Georgia Clark have been Defayette, who missed the 2021 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, junior Giuliana Ruggiero, senior Brianna Galka and junior Michaela DiCocco.

Both Fries and Cassano agree Defayette’s return has been a vital aspect of the team’s success.

“She’s a really big focal point of our team. Mia is a terrific and strong defender,” Cassano said. “Having her back, it connects our team. She leads our defence. She’s a leader and very confident in the back. I think it’s very good for us to have this strong defender who leads us in the back because we are very forward-team oriented and we score a lot of goals. Having the same balance in the back has been very important for us this year.”

“She’s our foundation there,” Fries said of Defayette, who scored two goals and added three assists. “Obviously she is recovering from her ACL injury which knocked her out last year. It was a big success for us. She was upset but her ability to bounce back this year and excel shows her determination. She wants to play college football at whatever level she is.”

Defayette scored a stunning goal from a 35-yard free-kick in a 4-1 win over Voorheesville.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be back in my senior year,” Defayette said. “The team is there for me.”

“Every person wants everyone else to succeed,” Cassano said. “Everyone has assists. Everyone has goals. We’re a well-balanced team and we all work well together. Our goal is to reach the States, reach the State Finals and get that ‘chip’. All of us have the drive to make it happen. I think that’s what makes us such a strong team this year.”

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