SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— North Salem fell behind 2-0 at halftime and lost 3-0 to host Lakeland in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 3 in the Sixth Michelle O’Brien Memorial Soccer Event.
Leading Lakeland to the opening-day win were two goals by Katherine Maurno, which were assisted by Ashley Acevedo and Gabi Libretti.
“The intensity that the team had and the way we worked together and moved the ball really had an impact on the two goals I had,” Maurno said. “Ashley Acevedo and Gabi Libretti sent the ball to the perfect place for me to finish. The team played with the same intensity as we do in practice and that really did help with our aggressiveness and our passes. All of this really led up to those goals.”
The win had extra added meaning for the Hornets as it came on a day it honored one of their former players, O’Brien, a 2007 Lakeland graduate who died of brain cancer in 2010.
Previously, the event had been an all-day preseason scrimmage affair involving between six and eight other schools in addition to alumni games but because of the condensed schedule this year, the Hornets decided to honor her to open both the girls and boys regular seasons.
The event, which began in 2011, was the brainchild of Francesca (Frankie) Vasta, an all-league player for the Hornets during her senior year in 2012, who now is a senior at Marist College.
“I think it meant a lot for everyone to win this game for her,” Maurno said. “We never got the chance to meet her but it was a huge honor to play and win this game for her.”
Standing out for the Tigers was their goalie Lindsey McSweeney, who did everything she could to keep her team in the game by making 18 saves.
“I thought she did an outstanding job,” North Salem coach Bob Martin said. “They got the third goal more than 20 minutes into the second half and until that point it was 2-0, so we were still pretty much in the game. She kept us in the game with a number of big saves.”
The key to McSweeney playing as well as she did was her tenacity.
“They had a much better attack than we did and she was aggressive to the ball, getting on the ground quick for saves, coming out and challenging attackers, balls that were crossed, getting them first. She did a nice job,” Martin said. “They had two goals in the first half where girls broke through the defense and it was kind of like one on Lindsey. Neither of the goals in the first half were ones she could do much about.”
While the Tigers didn’t get the result they wanted, Martin was pleased with his squad’s effort.
“What I liked about what we did, we worked hard,” Martin said. “Until the end of the game, we were still trying to get back in the game. We didn’t quit playing, and that was the biggest thing. There’s some work we have to do but it was our first game.”
A first game that was a learning experience and should pay dividends as the season moves on.
“We learned that we need to have a little more composure with the ball,” Martin said.