LYNN — Classical girls soccer coach Mike Schena had nothing but good things to say after his team’s 1-0 Northeastern Conference loss to Salem Wednesday night at Manning Field.
Salem’s Madison White netted the game-winner and the Rams fell short on a few scoring opportunities but from Schena’s view, Classical did everything he could’ve asked for.
“I expected a hard-fought game,” Schena said. “Our girls came to play. We just couldn’t finish. We had opportunities. I have a ton of respect for (Salem coach) Andrew (Douglass), we’ve coached together in club. I thought our girls came and played. It could’ve been a different game. Everything we’ve worked on has been 100 percent better. I’m proud of my girls.”
Classical, now 1-9-3 on the season, knows things haven’t gone its way this season. The goal from here on out is to finish the 2019 campaign on a high note.
“We’ve had some injuries,” Schena said. “We got two players back (Wednesday) but we still have four starters injured. The approach is to play like we did (Wednesday). It’s not about wins and losses, it’s about progress. Coming to this conference, you’re going to hit a buzzsaw. But it benefits us because we’re learning and it forces us to play a sound game every game.”
After 10 minutes of quiet play early on, the Witches started to find their offense. Salem’s first shot of the night deflected off the field goal post and out of Classical goalie Anna Flaherty’s window.
Then the Rams went on the offensive. Isabel McGaughey raced her way up the field for a one-on-one look at Salem’s net. But the Witches’ defense caught up with McGaughey to avoid damage.
Salem cashed in midway through the period. Stephanie Cantone worked her way to a 2-on-1 with Flaherty, dished a nifty pass to a wide-open White and the latter did the rest to give the Witches a 1-0 lead.
“Madison’s a great player,” Schena said. “She has size, strength. She’s an athlete. That’s Salem’s game. That through ball comes natural to her. She got her foot on it, perfect time and they executed it well. You can’t take that away from Salem. It was perfect execution.”
McGaughey’s shot on net toward the close of the half, after Flaherty made a point-blank save, was to no avail and Classical trailed 1-0 at halftime.
“We worked on that all week,” Schena said. “We worked on attacking and utilizing Isabel’s strengths. She was right there. Maybe one or two steps more and it’s a different game. But I thought our girls executed. It’s an honor to coach these girls. Isabel’s a senior and she wants it more than anything. I can see the fire in her eyes.”
Chasing a goal, the Rams looked to ramp up their attack in the second half. But with pouring rain and an alert Salem defense, netting the equalizer was much easier said than done. The Rams couldn’t gain much steam toward Salem’s end of the field, giving the Witches the 1-0 victory.
“Everybody played the game,” Schena said. “From the midfield to the strikers to the defenders, we all played the game we wanted. It was a solid all-around game. The passing was sound, the defense was there. It was a great game from beginning to end.”
Classical wore black and pink jerseys during Wednesday’s game to commemorate breast cancer awareness. October is breast cancer awareness month.
“This just shows that this isn’t just about us on the field having a good time,” Schena said. “There are people suffering. We want to do what we can to help them.”
The Rams are back in action next Monday (4) at Winthrop.