FAIRVIEW — The checklist for the Cambridge Springs girls soccer team is filling up nicely.
“We had two goals in the beginning of the season,” said Blue Devils head coach Geoff Bristow, adding that the first goal was: “We wanted to have a winning record.”
Check that. Not only did the Blue Devils finish the regular season with a winning record (9-5-1), they did well enough to win this year’s Region 3 title along the way.
“And,” he continued, “we wanted to win a playoff game. We’ve had some good teams in the past and we always seem to face the top teams in the first round of the playoffs. Our first time in the playoffs we played the defending state champs.”
As of Tuesday, that’s another box checked. Playing at Fairview High School’s Keck Field, Cambridge opened the District 10 Class 1A tournament with a long-sought victory, 4-0 over Crawford County rival Maplewood.
“I’m really proud of this team,” said
Bristow. “(Maplewood) was hurting. But still, they played strong. We’re two teams in a similar situation in that we’ve got a lot of younger players. And it’s going to be a good couple years for both of our teams if we can stay healthy.”
So, the Blue Devils are already setting up some goals for the future. Most immediate of those, however, is a second playoff
victory. They’ll have their chance on Monday in the Class 1A semifinals.
Cambridge (10-5-1) will face Iroquois at a site and time to be announced. Iroquois (12-5-1) upended Wilmington 2-1 in overtime in one of Tuesday’s other quarterfinals.
“We beat (Iroquois) 2-1 and tied them 1-1 this season,” Bristow said. “And the games were just right in the middle of the field. It was just a battle, just an absolute battle.
“And when their coach and I came and shook hands after the last game, we both said, ‘Boy I hope I don’t see you again in the playoffs.’”
Maplewood, meanwhile, ends its season with a record of 4-13-1, playing their last game with some big holes in their starting lineup.
“We were out four starters today,” said Tigers head coach Ted Eriksen. “We were down so many players. We had almost no bench, nothing to fall back on. The girls played well. I was happy with some of the little things that they did. But they just got out-worked today.
“It’s hard with a small school when you play this much soccer,” he added. “We played three games a week all season. That’s a huge physical demand. And at the end of the year they were just worn down.”
It’s a shame, because a full-strength Maplewood gave Cambridge a much better chase the last time they played, with the Blue Devils escaping with a 1-0 victory.
“I think that was a big difference today,” Bristow said. “We had all of our players available, and Maplewood was a little short on some players.”
Cambridge was indeed able to thrive on its variety, getting goals from four different players.
However, one particular player proved to be the catalyst for most of the Devils’ scoring yesterday.
Senior defender Lexie Burdick is the Blue Devils’ big boot. And they’d bring her up from the back line to handle corner kicks in the match.
That set the table for Cambridge’s two goals in the first half.
Midway through the period, Burdick sent the ball in from the left corner. Ali Reyes got off a shot, but Maplewood goalie Natalie Slagle turned it away. Maggie Braymer got the rebound and took another crack at the goal. This one went off the crossbar. The ball then traveled to the right post where Ella Nicholson was waiting for it. She used her head for the third try. It worked. The Devils had a 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Cambridge had another corner kick. Once again Burdick was the spark. She deposited the ball right in front of Maplewood’s goal. And the Blue Devils’ student body started hammering at it. One of Maplewood’s defenders got a stop. Slagle swatted away a couple more tries. Then, just before the Tigers’ stopper could smother the ball, the Spa’s Mackenzie Yanc poked it from under Slagle’s torso and into the net for goal No. 2.
“Our goal for this game was to play possession,” said Bristow. “We knew that (Maplewood) had a bunch of players hurt. So we wanted to possess the ball and tire them out. But Maplewood played good defense. They packed it in. And we were able to get two goals in the first half off corners. We were able to keep the pressure on them.”
Cambridge made it 3-0 five minutes into the second half, as Reyes and Braymer had a side-by-side run down the center of the pitch. Reyes made the final pass over to Braymer. And Braymer banked the shot off the left post and into the back of the Tigers’ net.
Finally, Burdick got a chance to finish something she started. With about 14 minutes left in the game, the Blue Devils were awarded a direct kick from 35 yards out. Burdick took it, and slotted it beautifully into the upper-left 90 to put the final marker on the board.
“I’m proud of (Burdick), because she’s a senior and she was a team manager for three years before she came up,” said Bristow. “All she wanted to do was play soccer. So I was really pleased for her. She got a playoff win and she was able to score that last goal.”