By Patrick Elder
The Magnificat soccer team continued its dominance in the Greater Cleveland area with its 5-1 victory over Avon Lake on Oct. 8, a win that came with a Blue Streaks roster full of Avon and Avon Lake residents.
Magnificat (11-1-1) was led by freshman phenom Alyssa Baumbick, an Avon Lake native, who scored a hat trick.
The Shoregals committed a penalty in the box in the opening minutes of the game, giving forward Baumbick her first goal of the match.
Avon Lake struggled to retain possession when under duress from Magnificat’s swarming defense. The Shoregals struggled to pass accurately in the face of pressure, forestalling any opportunities to attack. They had almost no shots on goal in the first half, as the ball largely stayed on their defense’s side of the field.
“I think we played good possession-control soccer,” Magnificat coach John Fenix said. “Obviously, as a coach, you’d like to see your players finish on more chances, particularly in the first half. It’s hard to argue with a 5-1 win.”
One such chance they did capitalize on came at the 18-minute mark of the first half, when another freshman, Evie Lavelle, scored off an excellent pass in the box. Magnificat would maintain this 2-0 lead through halftime, never allowing Avon Lake to generate any momentum of its own.
Just three minutes into the second half, Baumbick scored her second goal of the game by losing a defender on a quick stop-and-reverse, then kicking in a left-footed goal.
Avon Lake finally answered back as it switched up its attack to a 4-4-2 by bringing another forward up in the second half. This resulted in a goal by freshman forward Catie Corrigan near the 27-minute mark. Avon Lake senior goalkeeper Abby Rogers recorded nine saves for the day.
However, the Shoregals could not further capitalize on their increased time-of-possession and momentum, especially after giving up two more goals in quick succession at the 20:30 mark and 18:45 mark. The first of the goals was scored by another Avon Lake resident, sophomore Natalie Niehaus, from a boot off the right goalpost from just outside the box. The second, and last of Magnificat’s goals, was another penalty kick by Baumbick, which gave her the hat trick.
“I really didn’t do it on my own,” said Baumbick of her three goals. “I got two goals off of penalty kicks, which weren’t even my fouls. Obviously, the whole team was involved.”
Both Niehaus and Baumbick were thrilled to get a chance to play a game in their hometown. Other Avon Lake residents on the Magnificat roster include junior Katie Viancourt and freshmen Annie Ubbing and Eva Dils. Avon residents on the squad include senior Catherine Vamospercsi, sophomore Kaleigh Piscioneri and freshman Erin King. Piscioneri had four saves in goal, while Dils had one.
“I know people who play here from youth soccer and travel,” Niehaus said. “It means a lot to be able to come here and beat them.”
Other Westshore-area girls on the Magnificat roster are Westlake natives Natalie Coury, Sarah Lawrence, Paige Rombach, Lexi Norton, Izzie Lyons and Beth Bradley; Fairview Park resident Evie Lavelle; and Olmsted Falls native Alissa Clark.
Both teams will start tournament play, with the first sectionals games next week. Magnificat’s first game will be Oct. 18 at Rocky River High School, where it will play Olmsted Falls.
Avon Lake will also play at Rocky River High School, against North Olmsted, on Oct. 17. Should the team win, it will most likely play Magnificat again, as long as Magnificat wins its first game. This game comes just two weeks after the two teams played to a 0-0 standstill.
The Blue Streaks, in particular, are looking to go far this postseason.
“We certainly need to get further than last year,” Fenix said of their exit in the second game of last year’s postseason. “With a team like this, we’re looking to make an impact and a statement this year.”
Magnificat is ranked sixth in the state, according to the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.