October 21st, 2017

SHA captures fifth straight Seventh Region title

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer

SHA captures fifth straight Seventh Region title
The Valkyries with the Seventh Region championship trophy / photo by Conor Revell

Sacred Heart head soccer coach Jaclyn Puntillo made a halftime adjustment and moved star Cassie Amshoff to the midfield.

The plan worked as Amshoff scored two of the Valkyries three second half goals leading to a 3-1 victory over Manual in the Seventh Region title game Saturday at Male.

“We wanted Cassie’s defensive presence in the middle of the field,” Puntillo said. “Izzy Zamborini is one of the best center midfielders in the state. We thought she had been utilized underneath there in the middle a little bit plus she’s so effective from distance. It doesn’t hurt to keep her  a little deeper in the field.”

Sacred Heart (20-2) has now won five straight regional titles and 11 of the past 12 Seventh Region championships.

“Well, I dropped into more of a holding in the second half,” Amshoff said. “Then we saw that there was a lot of space because Manual was really packing it into the box and we wanted to move it around and shoot from a distance because we had that space.”

Manual (14-6-1) hasn’t won a regional title since 2011 when they were in the Sixth Region.  

Camille Barber, a right wing, made an impact on offense again and scored the other goal while Ashley Durik and Regan Nolan had assists.

Barber didn’t score a goal during the regular season and only dished out one assist. Her Seventh Region Tournament semifinal and final statline: two goals and an assist in two games.

“Camille Barber really found her stride in the regional tournament, which we really, really enjoyed” Puntillo said. “She had an assist and a goal against Male and then a goal today. What she can bring from an offensive and a defensive perspective is really special. She can assist the offense but she can also shut down Jolene Ballard, another great attacker.”

Kayla Patton scored the lone goal for the Lady Crimsons.

The Sacred Heart defense did a phenomenal job of stopping Manual superstar Izzy Zamborini who had scored 20 goals and dished out seven assists coming into the game.

“We knew that she was going to be good in this game,” Sacred Heart back Addy Lancaster said. “It was more of the center mids that stayed with Izzy but we knew that if we had help with her that we would always be supporting each other behind and that if I lost a step, Chloe (Kilcran) would cover her for me, if Chloe lost a step, I would cover for her.”

It was scoreless at the half.

Amshoff broke the tie when her shot from 25 yards bounce over Manual goalkeeper Autumn Wilding head to give the Valkyries a 1-0 lead with 28:05 to go.

“It came off a pass or a deflection from one of my teammates,” Amshoff said. “I got the ball and there was no one was within five yards of me so I thought if I’m within striking distance, why not take a hit. So, yeah, it went in.”

Barber scored her goal when she found space and scored off a pass from Nolan in the middle of the box to give Sacred Heart a 2-0 advantage with 19:37 remaining.

“Regan (Nolan) passed it into me in the middle and I dribbled it into the center of the box,” Barber said. “It hit the post at first so I freaked out and thought it might bounce out for a minute. But, it bounced off the post and went in.”

Amshoff iced the game when she scored off a Durik assist to put Manual in a 3-0 hole with 6:38 left.

“I think Brielle (Heuglin) played me, I played (Ashley) Durik down the line, she beat one or two girls, and was able to cross it into me. I bobbled it a bit and it hit a defender but it came back to me and I just took a touch with my right foot.”

Patton scored on a breakaway and her shot rolled past Sacred Heart goalkeeper Eliza Kelly and into the back left corner of the net to get the Crimsons within 3-1 with 4:58 to play.

Sacred Heart played good possession soccer and fired 19 shots at Wilding who made eight saves and earned three corner kicks.

Manual had its chances blasting off five shots at Kelly who made two saves and earned five corners.

“We had to communicate like last game and we will have to communicate for the rest of the tournament,” Barber said. “If we don’t communicate, a player like Izzy Zamborini will be left wide open by herself, and she’s a really good player.”

The Valkyries advance to Semi-State Three and will host Bethlehem, the Fifth Region champion, at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“With them, we have to win balls out of the air,” Puntillo said. “That’s going to be the most important part of that game. We stressed that bigtime the last time we played them. We also didn’t have Kiley (Polk) in that game and she’s one of our main ball winners so I think that will change our game as well.

“But, we played that game at their place, we’re at home this time, and we get to play on turf (Male has grass) the rest of the tournament which is beneficial for us because we like to put the ball on the ground and move it around.”

Sacred Heart beat Bethlehem 4-0 during the regular season.


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