RICHMOND – McHenry’s patience paid off Thursday night in its season-opener against Richmond-Burton.
The Warriors knew the Rockets would come out with a burst to start the season and all they needed to do was outlast the barrage of shots and make the most of their own opportunities.
McHenry executed its game plan perfectly, holding off R-B’s early attacks to take control in a 4-0 win.
“We capitalized on a lot of opportunities that we were given,” McHenry senior Emerson Gasmann said. “Every time they made a mistake, we made a big deal out of it.”
McHenry (1-0) held on for the first eight minutes as R-B controlled the pace and created chances. The Rockets had two corner kicks and a free kick within the first seven minutes, but the Warriors held off every chance, including a close call off a corner.
Once McHenry held off the attack, it made the most of its opportunities. Becca D’Agostino picked off a pass in front of the Rockets’ net and scored, giving her team a 1-0 lead with 31:41 left in the first half.
The Warriors held off another corner kick before Gasmann made the most of her opportunity, with a Rockets’ defensive miscommunication leading to an open fast break for Gasmann to score with 20:39 left in the first half.
Jasmine Ortiz scored on a booming shot from 30 yards out that sailed over Rockets goalkeeper Taylor Labay’s arms with 1:30 left in the first half, and Gasmann added her second goal of the night with 7:21 left in the match.
After missing on plenty of opportunities last season in close matches, McHenry coach Andrew Stegenga was happy to see his players show their growth in the first match.
“Last year we missed a lot of opportunities, left a lot on the table,” Stegenga said. “We just need to keep finishing like that.”
McHenry’s defensive backline took away the Rockets’ lead scorer last season, Reese Frericks, from making an impact by swarming her while holding on despite R-B having seven corner kicks in the match. Stegenga thought Sarah Duginske did a good job of leading what should be a strong defensive group this season.
“We’re solid in the back,” Stegenga said. “We knew that going in, and they knew it was going to be challenge.”
Coach Casey DeCaluwe thought his Rockets (0-1) created a lot of good opportunities, they just couldn’t score. R-B had an opportunity to score on a penalty kick with 23 minutes left in the match but Frericks missed to the left.
McHenry goalkeeper Makenna Harvey made seven saves in the match to shutout a talented Rockets lineup.
“Our focus is getting better from Game 1 to where we are at the end of the season,” DeCaluwe said. “This is a learning lesson, so we’ll take it with stride.”
[ Photos: McHenry at Richmond-Burton girls soccer ]
The Rockets won’t have much time to dwell on losing to a Class 3A team when they travel to play Lake Forest on Friday, a 2A team. McHenry will return to action Wednesday when it hosts Warren.
The Warriors thought Thursday was the perfect start to the season. Now with a whole schedule left to play, they’ll try to use Thursday as a launching pad to more success against a tough schedule.
“It’s huge,” Gasmann said. “The momentum is exactly what we needed.”