Girls soccer: Ottawa control ball, match for senior-night win over DePue/Hall

Pirates score their fifth win of the spring

Ottawa’s Sariah Polier (33) gets in a header as teammate Taylor Brandt (26) and DePue/Hall's Yoanna Gutierrez (9) look on Thursday, May 2, 2024, at King Field in Ottawa.

OTTAWA – Although they controlled possession right from the opening kick, it took the Ottawa Pirates some 10 minutes and change early Thursday evening to put the ball in the back of the DePue/Hall net.

Once they found it, however, Ottawa’s senior night was off and running, with the Pirates adding six more goals for a 7-0 victory in the final scheduled home game of seniors Sariah Polier and Alyssa Malmassarri’s careers.

“We’ve worked really hard on our passing and getting through-balls,” said Malmassarri, playing her first game in over a month because of a foot injury. “Once we get that first [goal], we get the confidence from that and just go. We really run off each other’s energy. Once one person gets a goal and that confidence, we all get it.

“It’s a beautiful thing. It works really well.”

The win lifts Ottawa to 5-12-1 heading into Friday’s makeup game at archrival La Salle-Peru. Four players scored goals – led by Taylor Brandt’s first-half hat trick, Chloe Carmona’s two goals in the second half and a pair of assists off the foot of Anastacia Zeglis – while goalie Shaelyn Miller needed to make only four saves to keep the clean sheet.

“We’re all kind of like family,” Polier said, “and we all go together really cohesively and listen to each other really well. I think it’s all about communication, and we really have that and a great support system.

“It was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better [senior night].”

Ottawa’s Kindley Moore (6) and DePue/Hall’s Veronica Fitzgerald (5) fight for control of the ball during their match Thursday at Ottawa.

DePue/Hall, now 2-8-2 on the spring, played hard throughout. Especially inspired efforts were put in from defensive midfielder Veronica Fitzgerald, keeper Kassy Lopez (24 saves, seven goals against) and especially sophomore defender Kaylee Paz, who single-handedly turned back Ottawa attack after Ottawa attack.

The Pirates – as evidenced by their eye-popping 31-4 advantage in shots on goal – simply had control of the soccer ball too often.

“We’re getting there, little by little,” DePue/Hall coach Jose Mejia said. “We don’t have that many girls to push it too hard, though.”

After multiple pushes ended in Lopez saves or Paz clearings, Ottawa finally got on the board 10:38 in on a Sophia Falaney line shot set up by a beautiful Zeglis assist. It only took a minute for the Pirates to strike again, Brandt controlling a perfect Zeglis corner kick in the air with a header that scooted past Lopez to make it 2-0.

Brandt added two more goals over the next 10:15 to lift the Pirates’ advantage to 4-0 by halftime. There the score remained until Ottawa added a few over the final 10 1/2 minutes, Carmona booting in a pair of left-footed goals and Sienna Banushi putting in the last with 37 seconds remaining.

“The team did a good job of connecting passes tonight,” Ottawa coach Kevin Olesen said, “and that’s what we’ve been stressing all season. So to see them actually doing it on the field this late in the season is a good sign of things to come.

“We don’t have a ton of seniors this year, but the two that we have have had a profound impact on the program. They’re good, positive-attitude kids, and they bring that to every practice and every game. We’re absolutely going to miss them next year, but I’m glad we’ll still have them for the remainder of this season.”

Ottawa’s Sophia Falaney and DePue/Hall's Jenny Reyes collide while fighting for control of the ball during match Thursday at Ottawa.
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