Ravaged by double-digit graduation, the girls soccer team at Leyden continues to suffer from growing pains here in the early going.
The Eagles (1-3-0) fell 2-0 Monday night at home to a quality Class 2A squad from Elmwood Park, allowing both goals in a first half which saw the hosts enjoy the run of play for most of the first 40 minutes. That gave hope to coach Rob Fowler, who saw continued progress despite the defeat.
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"We lost 10 from our team last year, and return just four starters, so we're still trying to sort things out, and learning on the job here in the first part of the season," said Fowler, who guided the Eagles to 9 victories in 2011 but lost most of his firepower and experience from that club.
"We are so young," began senior midfielder Jenny Ortega, who is in her third year with the big club and is a solid veteran for Fowler. "There are so many new (varsity) players who are still struggling with the speed of play at this level, so it's going to take some time for those players to catch up, and for the seniors to step up and give 110 percent to set the example for others."
The Eagles managed to put the visiting Tigers (4-0-0) on their heels right from the opening whistle by playing through Ortega as well as junior Cynthia Salgado, who won most of the 50-50 balls while feeding direct balls to teamates Ashley Torres and Renee Dionisio
"(That) worked early for us, but our forwards have got to keep running hard at people in the back to help create chances and opportunities, and after (Elmwood Park) scored their first goal, we didn't get the same kind of energy we had at the start -- which is something that has happened in almost every game we've played so far," Ortega said.
Tigers midfielder Ade Maron, perhaps their most technical and skilled player, fueled the visitors' first goal when she carried through the center channel before finding Lauren Zuro, who finished past keeper Julia Colindres at 14 minutes.
"You could sense the momentum that we had built leading up that goal slowly disappear for us," said Fowler.
The Tigers doubled their lead on a goal from Kelly Scanlon to send the visitors into intermission with a 2-goal advantage.
The Eagles were not as sharp after the break and made things too easy for Elmwood Park sweeper Becca Schmidt, who collected and cleared any would-be trouble as Leyden tended to play too often up the center of the pitch instead of wide and up the sides.
"We didn't play as well as we did in the first half," said Fowler. "The effort was there, and nobody gave up, but the team must learn to play two halves of soccer in order to improve and compete."