Girls’ soccer: 100 minutes, zero goals, as Concord plays Pinkerton to a 0-0 draw

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 09-01-2023 12:54 PM

CONCORD – With just over eight minutes left in the second half of a scoreless girls’ soccer tie between Concord and Pinkerton on Thursday, a shot from Tide senior Whitney Vaillant clanked off the crossbar. With just under six minutes to go, a Concord corner kick didn’t produce a goal either.

Another corner less than a minute later saw a similar outcome. In the overtime period, Concord had two more corners. Neither produced the desired goal.

It was a common theme for the Tide (0-1-1) in its 0-0 draw with Pinkerton (1-1-1) at Memorial Field.

Here are three takeaways from the Tide’s performance:

Rock-solid defense limits Astros’ opportunities: While Concord’s offense struggled to find the back of the net, the defense made sure Pinkerton had the same issue. The Astros were often unable to generate consistent offensive pressure because of the Tide’s disruptive on-ball defense and ability to keep the ball out of the middle of the field.

“They’re probably our strongest point this year,” Concord head coach Andrew Mattarazzo said of his defense. “Those girls have worked over the two or three years that they’ve been in the program with me, and they put in the work, they put in the effort, and I think they all understand what I expect of them. That’s something that’s big.”

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That continuity on the field is likely a big reason for the success, with seniors Raegan Wessling and Amanda Vezina, along with juniors Willa Marino and Navaeh Kalapinski having a good deal of experience playing with each other.

“They get the job done, and that’s all I ask of them,” Mattarazzo said. “That’s a huge part to eliminate a dangerous forward or a dangerous wingers’ chances, and I think they did that today.”

Mattarazzo looking for more aggressiveness on offense: Replacing an 18-goal scorer in Avery Fitcher means more of a scorer-by-committee approach for the Tide this season. With Thursday just the second game on the calendar, there’s still plenty of time to find its footing after Concord has been held scoreless in each of its two games so far.

The big key there, Mattarazzo said, is for players to be hungrier to score.

“People have to want to score the ball,” he said. “We’ve been working on it in training, and I think today, a couple of those came to fruition, we just didn’t finish them. We had good, quality chances, a couple hit the crossbar, a couple came across the box, but the girls just gotta get hungry for the goal.”

Concord can’t capitalize on corners: In the same vein as the struggling offense, the Tide had ample opportunities to try to score off of corner kicks but just couldn’t take advantage. With two corners in the last six minutes of regulation and two more in overtime, Concord has its chances.

It all comes back to that aggression that Mattarazzo wants to see more of, with his players hunting to try to score. Freshman Kate Dickson delivered some good chances to her teammates. Now, it’s just a matter of being able to finish.

“It’s tough, but it’ll come,” Mattarazzo said. “That’s what we need, for one person or two people, that willingness to want to score, and I think a couple of those corner kicks will end up in the back of the net for us in the future.”

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