With a team of just six seniors, C. Milton Wright High’s girls’ soccer team will be looking to its underclassmen to step up and make plays that normally takes time on the pitch.
The underclassmen answered the call Wednesday afternoon in the Mustangs’ 3-1 win against Maryvale Prep in a non-league tilt.
Lacing the only goals in the first half, Mustang freshman Alyssa Austen took crosses from junior Jessie Canami and sophomore Caroline Esslinger to post a 2-0 halftime lead.
In her second approach to the net, Austen picked Canami’s cross out of the air and volleyed it into the upper-right corner of the net for the Mustangs’ second score.
“I saw Jessie making the run down the sideline and I knew she was going to cross it since she didn’t have an angle,” Austen said. “I just kind of ran as fast as I could and used whatever body part was available to put it in the net.”
Both of Austen’s goals came within nine minutes of each other.
The Mustangs (2-0-1 overall) made a recent jump into the top five of the latest VSN’s Top 20 after beating Quince Orchard, 3-0, and tying Tuscarora, 2-2, last weekend.
“I thought we same out of the gate pretty well,” Mustangs head coach Paul Austin explained. “We wanted high defensive intensity and really pressure the ball, and I really believe that is what we accomplished. We really possessed the ball a lot more than they did and gave ourselves a lot of chances.”
It was tough for the Lions (0-1-1) to put pressure on the Mustangs’ goal, getting just three first-half shots off against defensively-sound sophomores Abby Smucker, Kelsey Targarona and Brooke Pridgeopn.
Maryvale was able to put one in the back of the net by way of senior Gabby Tana, who crushed her shot from outside the box and kept it just under the crossbar for her score in the 53rd minute, cutting the score to 2-1.
Mustangs’ senior captain Megan Will posted the final goal in the 64th minute, trapping, controlling and firing her shot from the top of the box.
“We are confident in a lot of people playing a lot minutes,” Mustangs assistant coach Brent Ritz explained about the multiple substitutions for C. Milton Wright. “We feel that we really don’t drop off, especially defensively, in intensity, and I think that puts a team in a tough spot.”
Senior Mustang goalkeeper Jenna Bowen was among the other upperclassmen to put on a terrific performance, holding a shutout against the Lions through nearly three-quarters of the game with a number of diving saves.
“We have a very solid defense, and the girls work very well,” Bowen said. “We were trying to keep that shut out, but we just ended up losing one player and it went over my head and I wasn’t able to get to it.”
Despite the three goals, Maryvale Prep’s senior goalie Katie Smith showed relentless heart, coming out of the box, attacking the ball and totaling 13 saves.
Maryvale next takes on No. 2 McDonogh School, Saturday at the McDonogh Invitational, while Mustangs take on Franklin in a non-league contest Friday.
“I think we are really doing well defensively and doing well in the middle of the field, we just are missing it a little bit in the front third, and that’s going to come,” Austin said. “To know that we can play better and still get the win, that makes us excited about what is ahead.”
C. Milton Wright 3, Maryvale Prep 1
C.M. Wright 2 1 3
Goals: CMW-Austen 2, Will; Maryvale-Tana
Assists: CMW-Canami, Esslinger