BETHEL — Over and over again, through the early part of Tuesday afternoon’s game, Masuk girls soccer coach Eleanor Brainard repeated the same message to her team: “Keep it simple. Keep it simple.”
Once the Panthers started following her advice — that is, once they started stringing together short, precise passes instead of going for the long ball — they were simply unstoppable.
Kacey Lawrence scored three goals and Giavanna DeLorenzo added a goal and two assists as Masuk topped Bethel 5-0 at Rourke Field. Kaitlyn Infante chipped in with a goal for the Panthers, last year’s runners-up in both the SWC and Class L state tournaments.
“We don’t practice long-ball at all,” Brainard said. “We’ve got speedsters up top, so sometimes they think it’s easier to just send it up. But we were good once we settled down.”
That took some time, however, as it wasn’t until the 24th minute that Lawrence broke the scoreless deadlock, finishing off a perfect pass from DeLorenzo into the box.
“Once we got into it, we did really well moving forward,” Lawrence said. “It was a huge team effort, too. Everyone was involved, from the back forward, on all the goals.”
Jennifer Jacovino and Kelcie Killian combined on the win in goal, with Jacovino starting and making two saves and Killian making eight in the final 29 minutes. Natasha Redmond made three saves for Bethel.
Although Masuk led 2-0 late in the first half, it was still anybody’s game. Then Infante scored off a pass from DeLorenzo in the final minute of the first half to break the game open and give Masuk a relatively comfortable 3-0 lead heading into the second half. DeLorenzo and Lawrence then scored unassisted goals 30 seconds apart in the opening minute of the second half.
Masuk sweeper Susan Matthews was pressed into service last year as a freshman in the state semifinals and final after senior Elisabeth Fried went down with a broken leg. Matthews, who had spent the season on the junior-varsity team, filled the role admirably under the brightest of spotlights. Now a year older, she’s quickly establishing herself as an important part of Masuk’s defense.
“She’s a very skilled, very smart player,” Brainard said. “She reads the game well, she’s also starting to understand that she’s in charge back there.”
“We have very high hopes,” Bethel coach Ben Weiss said. “They’re strong girls with good leadership. The seniors and the captains have really stepped up this year, and you saw it in the game with the pride and the unity and the togetherness. They never gave up until the final whistle.”
MASUK 5, BETHEL 0
MASUK3 2 — 5
BETHEL0 0 — 0
Records: Masuk 1-0-1, 1-0-1 SWC; Bethel 0-2, 0-2 SWC. Goals: M—Kacey Lawrence 3, Giavanna DeLorenzo, Kaitlyn Infante. Assists: M—DeLorenzo 2. Goalies: M—Jennifer Jacovino (2 saves), Kelcie Killian (8 saves); Be—Natasha Redmond (3 saves).