Lions can't find net in ESCC loss to Redwings
By Eddie Burns
It is not Catherine Caniglia's style to whine and complain.
Benet Academy benefitted greatly from Caniglia's mannerisms during its match with Saint Viator on Wednesday afternoon.
The Redwings and Lions were locked in a scoreless battle when Benet's Katie Kaufmann played a cross into the Saint Viator penalty area.
The ball appeared to hit a Benet player in the hand and most of the players on the field stopped playing in anticipation of some sort of a call, but the referee ruled to play on and that is exactly what Caniglia did.
While most of the players stood around moaning and groaning while waiting for a call to be made, Caniglia sized up a 25-yard shot and sent it past Saint Viator goalie Stephanie Shanahan to give the Redwings a one-goal lead in the 66th minute.
Benet tacked on an additional goal in the final minute to claim a 2-0 win against the Lions in an East Suburban Catholic Conference match played at Benedictine University.
"I just shot the ball," Caniglia said. "It was kind of lucky, but you have to do what you have to do. Everyone was screaming for a hand-ball call and I just shot it anyway. I didn't hear a whistle, so I just shot it."
Saint Viator coach Mike Taylor, who is in his first year as girls coach and has served 23 years as boys coach at the school, had no qualms about the officiating.
"I thought my girls played well tonight," Taylor said. "I thought they worked well together. We made one mistake there where the kids were caught standing still, but credit their girl for continuing to play.
"(Caniglia) hit a great shot and I don't think our goalie Stephanie Shanahan saw it. It was a bullet going in from there. It was an exciting game going back and forth. I'm disappointed we lost, but not on the game itself."
The Redwings (5-1, 4-0 ESCC) then dodged several close calls from the Lions (5-4-1, 4-1) in the closing minutes.
Shortly after Benet took the lead, Saint Viator's Katelyn Hammarlund and Taylor Skala almost tied the match.
Hammarlund sent a cross into the Benet penalty area where Skala made solid contact with the ball, but it was struck directly at Redwings' goalie Claire Munaretto.
"It was a pretty intense moment, but I was ready and waiting because you have to be in that type of situation," said Munaretto, who had six saves.
Saint Viator had the better of the play in the first half and at times during the second half.
Throughout the match, Hammarlund and Skala had a few close calls in and around Munaretto, but they were unsuccessful at putting one past her.
"We were really close and that is the frustrating thing about finishing – when those chances are there you have to convert and we didn't," Hammarlund said.
Skala was encouraged by the strong finish.
"I think we were working really hard together -- especially in the last 10 minutes," Skala said. "We brought the intensity and we need to bring it more into the game."
Taylor agreed with Skala about Saint Viator's effort.
"One thing this group is known to do is when they get down they pick up the intensity – they just pop it to another level," Taylor said. "The last couple of games when they've fallen behind they suddenly shift into another gear.
"We try to say to them, 'Let's play with that intensity -- not for the whole game because you will just die -- but you have to raise the intensity level when you see that you have your opponent down.
The Lions coach would have liked to see his team continue to perform in the second half as they had during the opening 40 minutes.
"In the first half we dominated and dominated and we just needed one of those bursts of energy one or two times and we're in there," Taylor said. "That stuff comes along with age and we'll get there.
"We connected well in the midfield and in the first half we won all of the balls. In the second half we started to not get those balls and those are the balls that hurt us.
"We started to let the ball bounce in them midfield and a bouncing ball gives us trouble and in the first half we got to every one of those. That is something we need to work to play a complete game."
Because Saint Viator played so aggressively in the final minutes, it made the Lions vulnerable to a counter attack and that is exactly what Benet did.
The Redwings quickly transitioned from defense to offense and Madie Burke sent a cross where Lexie Liber was waiting to put home the final goal of the match with less than a minute remaining.
"I think that second goal is all about what we've been working on --- getting to the end line, and cutting the ball back," Benet coach Henry Wind said.
"We're working diagonal balls into the corners and letting the forwards and midfielders get to it and cut it back – at the beginning of the year, we were getting there and shanking every ball out of bounds."
Overall, both coaches left pleased with what they saw.
"It is nice to see (the players) walk off and feel that they dominated the game and still lost," Taylor said. "I'm glad it means something. Now we're going somewhere.
"I've always said I'll go .500 and win the state championship than go 20-0 and lose in the first round. We're not where we want to be quite yet, but we're getting there."
For Wind, the effort was a positive sign with a roster that is littered with sophomores and juniors. Benet has won five straight since dropping its first match to York on March 23.
"We played quick and smart today and I liked to see that," Wind said. "We're starting to pick things up which has allowed for quick improvement."
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