Brynn DiGuglielmo scored early in the second half and host John Jay tightened up defensively as the game neared its end to lead the hometown Wolves to a season-opening 1-0 victory over Horace Greeley under the lights in Cross River, Oct. 13.
After a frustrating opening half for Jay, which saw the Wolves dominate play but unable to finish at the goal, a turnover at midfield by the visiting Quakers’ defense resulted in a breakaway attempt for DiGuglielmo, who dribbled in uncontested from the 50-yard line.
DiGuglielmo showed a goal scorer’s touch as she slipped the ball inside the right post beyond the diving Ellie Handwerger.
The goal came just 3:21 into the second half.
Handwerger had put on a goalkeeping clinic in the first half, recording a dozen saves. She ended the evening with 14 stops.
“Brynn’s goal definitely took a lot of pressure off of us,” Jay head coach Dave Nuttall said, “especially since it came so early in the second half. If not for scoring that early, it would have created more stress and frustration for the girls.”
Greeley controlled the initial several minutes of the match. Ramsey Edson and Flora Glantz each had excellent scoring chances from 20 yards out straightaway from Jay keeper Ilana Posner, but each attempt sailed high and over the cage.
Play leveled off for the ensuing 10 minutes. Handwerger was forced to make successive saves on close in chances by Sydney Bieber and Mia DiChiara. Then, Greeley’s Meredith Feiner and Hannah Fetzer responded with quality opportunities that were snared by Posner.
Over the final 15 minutes of the first half, though, Jay kept Greeley bottled up in their defensive end. However, the Wolves could not finish at the cage.
“I liked what we were doing out of the back in the first half,” Nuttall said. “We looked calm and collected when we were in possession. I thought we did well and controlled the game for a long time in the first half.”
He continued, “We were creating enough opportunities, but we made some bad decisions that forced us into some bad angle shots, and when we did have the chances straight on from the goalie, we shot it right at her.”
The coach added, “If we had finished, it could have been at least 2-0 or 3-0 at the break.”
Lauren Munoz’ through-ball to DiChiara set up the attacker for a scoring chance that was stymied by Handwerer with slightly over 15 minutes remaining before the intermission. With 11:45 on the clock, Madeline Slogoff’s one-timer off a throw-in was smothered by the Quakers’ goalie.
Jay continued to mount pressure and drives from just inside the left side of the box by Drew DiGuglielmo and Haley Fiderer were each caught in the mid-section by Handwerger, the attempts coming 30 seconds apart as the clock ticked near seven minutes left before the break.
With a shade over five minutes to go in the half, DiChiara sent Brynn DiGugliemo in for a chance five yards out. The ball slithered through Handwerger, but the keeper recovered to dive back and smother the ball before it trickled over the goal line.
After being forced to make only two saves in the first half, Posner recorded five after the break to end the night with seven saves.
“We were under a lot of pressure to defend late in the game when they (Greeley) were sending a lot of people forward,” Nuttall said. “But we kept our composure and, if we were able to convert on the counterattack, we would have been able to seal the game earlier.”
As the second half progressed, the Wolves locked down the own end to preserve the win.