OV girls’ soccer extends winning streak to four games


ELENA POLITANO CELEBRATES a goal with her teammates during Friday’s 2–1 victory over Springfield. Photo by Mat Clouser

BRANDON — One of the hallmarks of great teamwork is communication. This is true in business and relationships, as well as in sports, and it has been a big part of the OV girls’ soccer team’s three-game win streak coming into Friday’s showdown with Springfield—including a 7-0 lambasting of Mill River on September 28.

The OV girls’ soccer team was awash in healthy chatter again this past Friday before, during, and after their 2-1 victory over the visiting Springfield Cosmos.

True to the communication style of their mascot, the river otter—who is known to communicate through whistles, yelps, growls, and screams—the OV Otters held a signature pregame huddle in which they whistled, yelped, growled, and screamed themselves, albeit with at least as much glee as ferocity. 

LINNEA FAULKNER DOVE for one of many critical saves during Friday’s 2–1 win over Springfield. Photo by Mat Clouser

Fun, it seemed, was every bit as important as effort—and they had the looks of a team who could turn both fun and effort into something bigger,

They took synergy to the field, turning excellent defense—especially from junior goalie Linnea Faulkner—into multiple turnovers and breakaway chances by the likes of sophomores Mallee Richardson and Randi Lancour, as well as senior striker Elena Politano.

It didn’t take long for the Otters to break through, with Politano scoring off of an assist from Richardson to put the Otters up 1-0 with 31:38 remaining in the first half.

However, the Cosmos dominated much of the first-half possession after that, and it took timely defensive plays from freshman Jazalynn Madrigal, sophomore Savanna Cook, and senior Alexis Hayes (among others)—not to mention several big plays from Faulkner—to keep the Cosmos off the board.

FRESHMAN JAZZALYN MADRIGAL played clutch defense against the Cosmos in Friday’s game. Photo by Mat Clouser

Faulkner, one of the team’s most vocal and influential players, never seemed to stop moving or talking from her position in goal. The whole squad fed effortlessly off of her shrewd eye and timely directions—all of which led the Otter’s defense into forcing the Cosmos to settle for long scoring attempts—which Faulkner gobbled up easily.

“We had lots of shots from outside the box,” said Springfield Coach Ray Curren, “which is never going to get it done.”

The Otters began to turn the tables on time of possession in the latter portion of the first half, with the offense ratcheting up the pressure in the waning minutes, thanks to a number of nifty moves by Richardson, Lancour, and Politano—the latter of whom had a nasty deke on a Cosmos defender that elicited a chorus of oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Mallee Richardson displayed some nifty footwork on her way to pick up an assist in the first half vs. the Cosmos. Photo by Mat Clouser

A penalty with just two seconds to go in the half led to an Otters free kick that Politano buried in the back of the net with a wicked display of power and accuracy, leaving the crowd and the Cosmos in awe and disbelief—and giving OV a 2-0 lead at halftime.

“That goal was a killer,” said Cosmos Coach Ray Curren after the game. 

Otters coach Tammi Blanchard didn’t have to do much talking at the half as her team was more than willing to step in and congratulate one another for the crisp passing and connected defense they displayed in the first forty minutes—all the while maintaining an eye on staying humble and ready for what figured to be a rededicated Cosmos attack in the second half.

Randi Lancour broke away from the defense during the second half of the Otters 2-1 victory over Springfield. Photo by Mat Clouser

Despite the first-half letdown and a general air of frustration at the break, the Cosmos did come out strong in the second half, once again dominating the ball for long stretches, only to be turned away repeatedly by the Otters’ defense. 

For their part, the Otters’ offense turned stagnant in the second half. The crisp passing and aggressive runs by their forwards became more turnovers than attacks, and the Cosmos seemed to gain momentum at turning them away, as had been the opposite case in the first forty minutes.

As the game went on, the Cosmos got deeper and deeper pressure on their attacks, yielding several stronger (and closer) shot attempts, leading to multiple close calls for the Otters and forcing Faulkner into making a few big saves.

Elena Politano pushed the ball ahead on one of OV’s many attacks. Photo by Mat Clouser

However, with 5:48 remaining in the game, Springfield was able put the ball in the net on a breakaway by Springfield junior Meadow Murchie, who scored her first-ever varsity goal.

The Otters shook it off quickly, however, and were able to put the clamps down to run out the clock and secure their fourth-straight victory. 

“We played smart; everyone played hard,” said OV Coach Tammi Blanchard, lauding her team for their passing and overall connectivity despite being down two injured starters.

The Otters celebrate after one of Elena Politano’s two goals against Springfield. Photo by Mat Clouser

When asked how she felt about the team’s winning streak, Blanchard smiled. “The girls are starting to come together,” she said.

Up next for the now 4-3 Otters is a home game vs. Fair haven on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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