Sparked by a defense that’s yielded no more than one goal in any match, Calhoun has already equaled its win total from the spring season with a 5-0-1 mark in Nassau Conference A2 girls’ soccer.
The Colts, in taking hold of first place, posted four shutouts in six outings and lead a competitive field heading into the second half of the schedule.
“We came into the season feeling we can compete for the conference title and make noise in the playoffs,” coach Melissa Rohr said. “It’s super competitive. We jumped right into the season without a scrimmage or a non-league, so our first game was our first test.
“We’re not giving up a lot of goals and we’re playing more offense than we have in three years,” she added. But, if there’s one thing we can do better it’s finish.”
Only two shots eluded senior goalkeeper and captain Holly DiPalo (31 saves) over the first six contests. Three of her four shutouts were wins over North Shore, Valley Stream South and Seaford, with a scoreless draw against Bethpage mixed in. “Holly was hurt in the spring and only played four games, but she’s come back incredibly strong,” Rohr said. “She puts in so much training and I feel playing other sports like basketball and lacrosse contributes to her soccer skills.”
Rohr moved senior Alyssa Crews from midfield to center-back, and senior Ashley Thompson from forward to fullback, to bolster the defensive unit. “Nothing gets past Alyssa,” Rohr said. “She has such a calm demeanor and really just cleans everything up.” Thompson brings height and delivers long throw-ins to get Calhoun going on re-starts. Junior Jill Conlon’s speed and vision is a key to the transition game, Rohr noted, and she leads the team with three assists. “Jill is all over the field and likes to push the ball forward,” she said. Senior Lauren Penna is often tasked with the toughest marking assignment when the Colts plan to take away the top opposing offensive threat.
Balanced scoring has been the theme for Calhoun so far. Sophomore midfielder Makayla Condela, a third-year starter, had the hot foot in consecutive 1-0 victories over Valley Stream South and Seaford last week, scoring the lone goal in each game. “She’s aggressive and was knocking on the door for a goal for a while, so it was good to see her score,” Rohr said.
Senior Olivia Perrone, in her fourth varsity campaign, is a highly skilled defensive center-middie who helps the Colts control the pace. Freshmen Jordana Bello, who has three goals, and Alex Aievoli, have fit right in. “They’ve been given a lot of responsibility and are handling it well,” Rohr said.
At forward, junior Madeline Ryan has a solid two-way game and sophomore Gabrielle Novelli is finding her stride and confidence, Rohr said. Novelli scored Calhoun’s first goal of the season. On Sept. 18, junior Taryn Hilke scored to help defeat New Hyde Park, 2-1.