PITTSFIELD — Drury girls soccer coach Maria Bartini doesn’t want anything becoming a distraction for her players this season, but the numbers are growing staggering.
The Blue Devils overmatched Taconic on Monday afternoon, riding the turf at Gene Dellea Field to a 14-0 road victory. The win pushes the Fall II Berkshire South champions to 7-0 to start the 2021 fall season. On top of that impressive mark is Drury’s goals against average, which still stands at 0.00.
Photos: Drury girls soccer at Taconic
On Monday afternoon, Drury girls soccer beat Taconic 14-0 in Pittsfield.
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Seven different teams have taken their best shot at a defense back-boned by seniors Sam Kogut and Madeline Nesbit, and all seven have come up empty. Drury graduated All-Berkshire goalkeeper Mackenzie Dobbert in the spring, but the defense has done a superb job easing sophomore Brooke Bishop into the starting role. That the offense has produced double-digit goals in three consecutive games doesn’t hurt either.
“Our back line has been working together for a long time now,” said Bartini. “We’re pretty happy about it, with a new keeper and I think she’s pretty solid. She’s had to make some big saves to get those clean sheets. They’re working hard, it’s motivation to get those clean sheets. That hasn’t always been the case at Drury in the past, so they’re enjoying it”
Senior Elli Miles got the scoring started against Taconic, sealing her defender and flicking a shot into the back of the home net just 6 minutes and 2 seconds into the game. A minute or so later, fellow senior Kayla McGrath got her first of the afternoon, hammering home a ball that ricocheted to her off a Miles corner kick. Both Miles and McGrath finished with four goals a piece, and each added an assist. McGrath scored her hat trick naturally.
In the 19th minute, she took a defender one-on-one moving right to left, before popping off a left-footed boot that went top-shelf into the Taconic net. In the 20th minute, she showcased a bit more electric footwork and a quick release to put Drury in front 4-0.
Miles’ quick trigger earned her second goal in the 24th minute, firing a shot before Taconic keeper Tatyanna Curtis could anticipate.
The lead was 6-0 at halftime, after Melanie Moresi’s corner kick found a foot in the crowd in front of Taconic’s net with 8:22 to go. The hosts were held mostly without an offensive opportunity.
“The defense has been together for a while, with Madi Nesbitt, Sam Kogut, Rylee Joy,” said Miles. “Since really my freshman year, they’ve been playing back there together. They really know what they’re doing, and they’ve been keeping teams from even getting shots off.”
It was April 30 when Drury knocked off Hoosac Valley in the Berkshire South title game to end the makeshift spring soccer season. Just five months later, the Blue Devils haven’t taken their foot off the gas.
HALF: Drury 6, Taconic 0.Kayla McGrath deposits this Miles corner kick into back of net as part of her first-half hat trick pic.twitter.com/PVPKquPTRD— Mike Walsh (@WalshWrites89) September 27, 2021
“When we finished up last year, I knew this year we’d be good. But we’re a pretty young team overall. I didn’t think we’d be scoring lots of goals every game,” said McGrath, who now has 20 goals on the season. “And it’s not just me and Elli. We have freshmen scoring, juniors scoring, a variety of people and we’ve been working really, really well together. It’s showing on the field.”
Miles’ hat trick came in the 44th minute on another quick strike, and she added a fourth on a late penalty kick.
“I think we were pretty confident coming in. We got some new girls, but there are a lot of young girls from last year that got a ton of experience,” said Miles. “I think we were confident we’d be good. I think we exceeded those expectations, but we’re just trying to improve with every game.”
Hailey Kingsley, Madison Saunders, Reagan Cornell, Maddison Houghtaling and Alyssa Russell all scored goals for Drury. Jacinta Felix racked up three assists, while Russell, Saunders, Kingsley and Nesbit each had one helper.
“I was hoping we would start off the season strong. I’m not sure I would’ve predicted this level of goal-scoring, but the freshmen are stepping up,” said Bartini. “They’re learning a lot every day from the upperclassmen. We’re kind of firing on all cylinders right now, and hopefully they’ll continue to do that as the season progresses.”
For Taconic, the 2021 fall season is the first full campaign under new head coach Dean Bamford. Bamford, who has 20 years coaching experience, including the last 12 in the United States, took over the program during Fall II.
Drury up 12-0 late in second half, but Taconic keeper sees this one in for the save. pic.twitter.com/Eh5TWI2MW4— Mike Walsh (@WalshWrites89) September 27, 2021
“We’ve tried to develop a certain style of play,” Bamford said on Monday. “Our girls, we’ve got some that have never played, some who play at a high level. So we’re trying to find that balance, and it’s been difficult. Games like today don’t help.”
Curtis made 14 saves in the game, including 10 in the first half. Her night could’ve been even busier if not for the back line work of Kyleigh Pannesco, Ava Maffuccio, Isabella Pimentel and Diandra Middleton, who were constantly obstructing Drury attackers all over the field.
Offensively, opportunities were few and far between for the home side. Taconic tried to work through forwards Eboni Gardner and Tiffin Martin, but struggled to sustain possession in the Drury zone. Bishop made two saves for Drury.