Thursday, November 10, 2022

Windham Under-14 girls’ soccer defeats Yarmouth for state title

By Matt Pascarella

In a season that started slowly for the Windham Youth Soccer Association’s Under-14 girls’ soccer team, it quickly evolved into a team seeded No. 2 going into Soccer Maine’s State Championship game against No. 1 Yarmouth on Sunday, Nov. 6. And at the final whistle, Windham secured the title with a 1-0 victory.

Windham eighth-grader Cassidy Streifel races to be first
to the ball in the Soccer Maine State Championship game
against Yarmouth at Falmouth on Sunday, Nov. 6.
In the second half of the game, Windham eighth-grader Maya Dries took a direct kick that was a perfect arch, up and over the Yarmouth goalie’s head to give Windham a 1-0 lead.

As the clock was winding down, Windham defense made sure Yarmouth’s offense was unable to score and held on to win Soccer Maine’s Under-14 Girls’ Champions Cup.

“I was pretty nervous because I knew it could have been the game-winning goal. I was so happy when it went in,” said Dries. “We’ve always been a second-half team and we’ve played them before, and we always know in the second half we have to come out so much stronger.”

Dries said passing for Windham went well against Yarmouth, but she also gave credit to the team’s goalie, eighth-grader Elizabeth Hartwell, who had many saves during the game and almost 50 saves throughout the season while not allowing a single goal during the playoffs.

Hartwell said she was nervous going into the matchup against Yarmouth. She said she had to stay on her toes and play as if Windham was losing, because she plays better when the team is behind. She said teamwork, communication and just having fun were all positives during this game.

In the first half of the game, Windham came out a little flat. Yarmouth pressured hard and controlled the field for much of the first half. However, Windham’s defense did not allow Yarmouth on the scoreboard and the game was scoreless at halftime.

“We started off a little slow,” said the Windham Youth Soccer Association U14 girls’ soccer coach Brian Dries. “We realized that defensively we needed to tighten up a little bit more, so we moved some kids around and found that sweet spot for kids where they ... were contributing the most to the team and from that point on we never looked back.”

He said Windham kept their heads about them. They got a little nervous but adapted and realized they could win. The coach said that many Windham kids played positions they don’t normally play, and they had to adapt to Yarmouth’s style of play but the Windham players in those positions really stepped up.

Windham eighth-grader Denali Momot said they had more determination to win, and it feels great.

In the second half, the wind and sun were not directly in Windham’s faces. Windham was going strong after the ball and their defense limited Yarmouth’s scoring opportunities.

When Maya Dries scored you could see that the momentum had shifted. Windham’s offense worked to increase their lead and Windham’s defense held off Yarmouth’s attack.

“After Maya’s goal we had to contain and not take too many risks,” said Windham eighth-grader Mackenzie Delewski. “We were playing more defensively. We’re a second half team and ... we kind of had to get into our flow.”

Coach Dries said it was Windham’s defense that enabled them to go from a team with a slower start to the season to becoming state champions. <

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