MEXICO — An onslaught of offense in the Mexico varsity girls soccer team’s 6-0 win over Jordan-Elbridge allowed Mexico coach Martin Charles to prepare for two things: the immediate future, and next season.
On the Tigers’ Senior Night — where all 10 senior members were recognized, including Alecsis Buda, Mackenzie Craig, Kendall Cuyler, Caitlyn Dubois, Morgan Eastman, Kaylee Greenway, Ashley Hellinger, Hannah Lindsley, Emily Parkhurst and Briana Urquhart — Mexico utilized set pieces, scoring three goals off of corner kicks.
With Grace O’Gorman and Adria Ariola providing strong services off the corner, Craig, and Lilly Duschen all found the back of the net throughout the contest. O’Gorman also scored directly from the corner.
Charles added that O’Gorman’s accuracy on the corner kicks is something she’s had since middle school, when Charles and assistant coach Chris Harter saw videos of her playing. While it sometimes hurts having “one of the best offensive players” taking the kick, Charles mentioned “the results speak for themselves.”
“We’ve worked hard on set pieces. In the past, we’ve struggled. We haven’t scored on them,” Charles said. “Now we seem to be getting our groove. … There’s still a few things, like the ball goes through or they aren’t going as hard as they should. There’s gaps, but we’re doing better.”
On a long-term scale, Charles has been able to substitute players in and out throughout the matches, with the bench earning a lot of playing time over the last couple matches for the Tigers. Prior to Monday’s win over the Eagles, Mexico also defeated Tully 4-0 Friday.
While the last 15 minutes of Monday’s contest were reserved for the senior class, Charles has moved players around, adding more depth to his squad.
“It’s a good opportunity to hone their skills and a good opportunity for the girls who are coming back next year to work together,” Charles said. “And luckily, the results were good in that situation.”
Mexico got to work early with the first corner kick goal at 6:38 of the opening half. O’Gorman scored directly off the corner, just going over J-E’s goaltender’s hands. With 14:55 left, Ariola assisted Craig, who headed the ball off a corner kick for the 2-0 lead.
Ariola got her first goal of the night from about 20 yards out just a couple minutes later.
Duschen got a shot in close off another corner from O’Gorman, giving Mexico a 4-0 advantage with 35:58 left in the game.
O’Gorman scored a goal of her own at 8:39 after a cross from Duschen that was bobbling around at the top of the goal box.
And just as she ended the first half, Ariola scored a goal from about 20 yards out that went off J-E’s goaltender’s hands with 30:00 left.
Urquhart made just six saves to preserve the shutout. Charles said his goaltender made some strong saves, especially coming out to slide and dive, knocking the ball away from a few attacking forwards from J-E.
“We’re working on her coming out harder and diving, and once you make that commitment, just staying with it,” he said. “A positive tonight was that the turf was wet. You go back to old-school grass, the keeper can come out and slide and extend. On turf, you can’t. On a night like tonight, she was able to reach out and stop the ball.”
With a large senior class, especially after not knowing whether soccer would be back in the fall or not, Charles said, simply, “it’s a good group of seniors.”
“They’ve worked hard. They’re all a vital part of our team and our family,” he said. “They’re girls — they’re like our daughters.”
The Tigers host Skaneateles Thursday for the second game of the series against the Lakers.
At Skaneateles on Sept. 21, Mexico fell 2-0. But, Charles thinks his team will play against the Lakers better at home due to different field conditions. He added that Skaneateles’s turf is “like playing on carpet,” and sometimes the ball bounces awkwardly.
Plus, with the “tweaking” he’s done all year to his roster, he thinks a lot of the players are in a better fitting position for them. He’s made changes to his midfield, such as moving O’Gorman and Buda there from striker positions, and also moved Ariola from the outside to the inside of the field.
“Nothing changes (against Skaneateles). We just play harder. We don’t let them beat us to the ball,” Charles said. “I think we finally have a good combination and we should be OK.”