Hamilton soccer using experience to find offense this season
SAUGATUCK - The Hamilton girls soccer team has been a program with one of the most tenacious defenses over the years.
The Hawkeyes had a run of 10 shutouts in 12 games last season and played stellar defense all season.
But offense was a little more difficult to come by.
High school soccer is tough enough on offenses, but with so many strong defensive teams in the area, goals are at even more of a premium.
Hamilton will look toward its experience in that department this season. Despite graduating a lot of starters, seniors Mariana DellaVecchia and Emily McDonald are both four-year varsity players and strong goal scorers.
The duo each scored in a 3-0 win at Saugatuck on Monday, breaking through in a battle of staunch defenses.
"Mari has so much savvy and soccer know-how and is a really calming influence, too. Her teammates chose her as a captain this year, so that has empowered her as well," Hamilton coach Tyler Robinson said. "She is our offensive cog that we flow things through. Emily McDonald is big up there too and they have both been around for four years."
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After a breakaway that saw Hamilton's Joselyn Paskvan poke one past Saugatuck goalie Kennedy Gustafson, DellaVecchia scored on a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box.
"I was super nervous, but I have been practicing it. We always do PKs at the end of practices because at districts, we will most likely have to do it at some point. I have been working on those for a long time," DellaVecchia said. "We talked more (in the second half) and moved off the ball instead of kick and running. Saugatuck is a good team and kick and run wasn't going to work. And we got the job done.
"It is a big deal. This is how we are going to set the mode for the rest of the season."
McDonald scored the last goal that Gustafson got her hands on, but not until after it crossed the goal line, giving the Hawkeyes a 3-0 win in a tough non-conference matchup.
"Both of our teams were trying to find a rhythm. Saugatuck is going to win a lot of games. It was 3-0 but it was a battle," Robinson said. "We are trying to find our team chemistry and we will get there."
For Saugatuck, it was a tough loss where the Trailblazers couldn't quite click on offense. The team hit the post twice and had a couple other chances sail just wide.
"We came in feeling confident. Last year, we were a little intimidated playing them. We lost 1-2. This year, we felt better, but this game was a closer game, even though we didn't score. We had more ball movement and more aggression. We weren't as timid as we were last year," Saugatuck senior Adele Nieuwsma said. "We wanted that win, but knowing that we stuck in there with them means a lot for our season."
Contact sports editor Dan D’Addona at Dan.D’Addona@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDAddona or Facebook @HollandSentinelSports.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Hamilton soccer using experience to find offense this season