The high school soccer season is in full swing as the playoff picture begins to come into focus. For one local girl’s team, its early season has positioned them with solid ground to stand on. The Ithaca High Girls Soccer team has been powered by a steady team of strong performances.
At the start of a new season, its often a rare sight to see teams, regardless of sport, functioning in mid-season form. For Maureen Whitehead’s Little Red squad, the mid-season form was only just the beginning. “It was important that we set a different tone from last season,” said Whitehead, “We are much more confident.” The team would certainly do that with a hot start.
The season began with a strong showing in a 3-1 win over Johnson City. The team showcased its all-around talent and distributed the ball to the right playmakers to develop opportunities. This decision making and effective play didn’t stop after the season-opening win. The Little Red have shown true teamwork and wealth distribution throughout the 2018 campaign. “We have 13 different girls who are providing our goals,” said Whitehead, “We have 15 that had at least one assist.” The distribution of wealth comes as a developmental process that has Whitehead excited to see. “Its vitally important that we are spreading out the scoring, “she said, “It’s the key to our offense and to our success.”
The abundance of scoring talent on the team has led to an impressive number and impressive runs. Including the opening win over Johnson City, the Little Red would mount a 6-game winning streak to put itself in the lead in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference’s West Division.
During the start to the season, Whitehead’s team recorded five shutout victories over opponents. While a strong defense provides great attributes to a team’s success, the scoring ability of the Little Red was and still is on full display.
With the help of the widespread scoring effort, the Little Red loaded the scoreboard in all but one game of the first nine. A lone 4-0 loss at Maine-Endwell put a slight bump on the tracks of the Little Red machine, but beyond that, the offense has been firing on all cylinders. In the opening 6-game winning streak, the Little Red outscored their opponents by 19 goals, scoring 20 and conceding one in the Johnson city game.
The team’s success on the offensive side of the ball has been in large part to the contribution of many players, but one young athlete has been making her mark throughout the season. Seneca Blakely-Armitage has been fascinating defenses with her ‘target-player’ style of play, patiently waiting, embedded in the defensive mid-field, for the opportunity to create plays. While preemptively penetrating the defensive backfield of opposing teams before plays develop, Blakely-Armitage has dictated the forward advancement of the Little Red. In the opening week of the season she picked up three goals and seven assists and was named ESPN Ithaca’s Fueling Excellence Athlete of the week, and she has continued to lead the team offensively as the season has progressed. As a team, the Little Red has proven resilient during the middle part of the season. When faced with back-to-back, double-overtime scenarios last week again the team rose to the occasion and came away with positive results against Elmira and Corning, the latter of which came in a come-from-behind effort. Blakely-Armitage produced a second-half goal off of an awarded penalty and Emma Einarson recorded a huge save on a penalty shot by Corning.
With the season winding down and postseason play quickly closing in, the Little Red is sitting in the driver’s seat in the STAC West. With their final game of the season coming on October 9, Ithaca is preparing to close out the final stretch of the season with a strong push toward the postseason.
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