What a difference a tournament makes.
When Union (10-4) and Washington (10-7-1) last met at the Windsor Tournament, they were playing for the championship.
But at the 24th Annual CYC Joseph Carenza Memorial Tournament Thursday, the teams played for seventh place.
And like at the Windsor Tournament, Union emerged with the victory. This time, the Lady ’Cats won 4-1.
“It’s a little different when you’re playing for seventh instead of first,” Union Head Coach Matt Fennessey said. “We’re happy to get the win. Washington’s a good team. They’re always tough because they’re a rival school.”
Washington Head Coach Chris Lanemann said his players competed in the match.
“I thought my girls played very hard,” Lanemann said. “We had a very short bench due to injuries and I had girls playing new positions. So under those circumstances I thought we played hard.”
Sophomore Bethany Coons and junior Kayla Thornton each scored a brace for the Lady ’Cats while senior Brianna Pagan scored on a penalty kick for Washington.
“They both did a really good job,” Fennessey said. “Kayla came off the bench and put two in for us at crucial times. Bethany also had a nice game with two goals. I’m happy with the way they played and I’m happy to get back into the scoring column. It’s been three games now that we’ve gone without a goal, so it’s nice to get back to scoring some goals.”
Lanemann said Union took advantage of mistakes.
“We still continue to make some mental mistakes, like we did on three of the goals,” Lanemann said. “The good thing is, they are mental mistakes and can be easily corrected. Union is a good team and are well coached, you can’t give up two soft goals and make the mistakes we made and expect to win.”
Fennessey said the tournament was a good experience for Union
“We’re going to get stronger,” Fennessey said. “This was a great tournament to see where we’re at with the big dogs and see what we need to do better. We got to see what good quality soccer looks like.”
Fennessey credited Washington and some of his players.
“They’re always tough,” Fennessey said. “We changed some things around a little bit, putting Natalie Helling in the middle of the field and she’s doing a nice job with Alyssa Coons. I moved Abbie Brack up to stopper, which is more of a natural position for her and what she played last year. She played a really nice job.”
Lanemann also felt several of his players had good games.
“I thought Destiny Hofstetter had a very nice game playing stopper for the first time this year,” Lanemann said. “I also thought Martha Noelker had a really strong game playing wing midfield, which was her first time playing this position as well. Halee (Nurnberger) created some nice scoring chances for us, we just didn’t capitalize. I am counting on getting most of my injured players back next week and we will get going on the right track and finish our season strong.”
If you missed the first two meetings, the teams are scheduled to play again Wednesday at Union Middle School.
The junior varsity game will kick off at 5 p.m. The two JV teams also played on Thursday in the Union Tournament with Washington winning, 4-1.
Wednesday’s varsity game will kick off around 6:30 p.m.
Prior to that, Union will visit Sullivan in Four Rivers Conference play Monday with JV action starting at 5 p.m. That’s expected to be a huge game in the FRC race.
The Lady Jays, who will be playing on the road for the rest of the season with construction starting at their home pitch, are at Holt on Tuesday for Gateway Athletic Conference Central Division action. The JV game starts at 4 p.m.
In Thursday’s game, Union picked up the first goal in the 17th minute. Coons intercepted the ball and was able to fire a high shot which looped over Washington junior netminder Anna Kelpe to make it 1-0.
“We did good,” Fennessey said. “We came out and got a goal in the first 20 minutes. We kept our foot on the gas from there.”
Washington had a chance to equalize late in the half, ripping a shot off the crossbar.
But Union made it 2-0 just before the half. Thornton scored on a hard open shot from the right side in the 38th minute after Coons crossed the ball to her.
Union needed that lead as Washington was awarded a penalty kick in the 43rd minute after Union tripped one of the Lady Jays in the box.
Pagan converted on the penalty kick to cut Union’s lead in half, 2-1.
Union needed six minutes to add to the lead. Coons was able to put a shot past junior goalkeeper Mary McGilvray (who played the second half for the Lady Jays) just inside the right post. Union’s lead was not threatened again.
Union received a scare at the hour mark when senior Alyssa Coons went down with a left ankle injury. She did not return.
In the 79th minute, Thornton completed her brace with another goal, ripping a high shot which snuck through McGilvray’s hands and into the net.