Archbishop Wood sends off seniors with offensive surge against St. Hubert

WARMINSTER >> It was exactly the kind of offensive performance the Archbishop Wood girls soccer team had been looking for.

On a day where the team recognized its eight seniors, a freshman stole the show on offense. Led by Lauren Ruth’s four goals, the Vikings clobbered St. Hubert 8-0 with four different players contributing goals.

It wasn’t really a matter of who scored, though getting tallies from senior defenders Claire Bassetti and Maddie Strockoz was a nice touch. It was more that a team that hadn’t been finishing did with the PCL playoffs on the horizon.

“We want to win all of our games but we especially wanted to win this one because it was Senior Day,” junior forward Sofia Filippo said. “It was a big game, we had everyone here so it really motivated us to play well.”

Filippo notched the Vikings’ other two goals while displaying a rapidly evolving chemistry with Ruth up top. Both forwards are good in possession with Filippo strong in the air and Ruth able to make quick, darting runs into the box.

The Vikings also forced the issue with their wide play and set pieces, showcasing their speed and accuracy on the flanks. But their first goal came in a less orthodox but no less welcome manner.

About seven minutes in, Strockoz served a ball in from her right back position that seemed to catch a breeze and glided into the back of the net.
“I’ve scored like that in club but not in high school,” the senior confessed. “We really wanted to push ourselves so we had to play really hard and we did.”

Filippo was Wood’s most dangerous player early, having a shot saved, sending another high and a third saved by the crossbar. But the junior finally broke through in the 15th minute, heading a great corner by senior Erin Eckert.

The Vikings continued to press the issue on offense, sensing they were close to breaking the floodgates. Strockoz provided the set-up for the breakthrough, playing Ruth through on a breakaway that the freshman calmly potted to start her account. in the 26th minute.

“It’s all about when to run and where to run in the open space,” Filippo said. “We’ve always been like that where even if we’re winning, we go hard. It’s even like that in practice.”

Filippo found her second goal on an assist from Kylie Menarde then not even a minute later, Ruth got her second on a pass from Sierra Tarantino. Bassetti, the steadfast defender, closed the first half scoring when a corner kick off the foot of Caitlyn Cligget bounced off Filippo and right to the senior for a composed finish.

“We needed the offense,” Wood coach Bill Cappo said. “We were lacking goals, not scoring goals and they came out and did it today.”

Wood’s play on the outside led to the seventh goal when Eckert was able to play a ball back into the box where Ruth was able to run in and pounce on it for the hat trick. With starting seniors Eckert and Sarah Welch, along with a handful of capable reserves, the Vikings’ wide players are more than capable of creating plenty of scoring chances.

They’ve also got a couple of pretty good targets to play it into.

“They look for one another,” Cappo said. “They’re quick and they’re both skilled. They pick their spots in the goal, they get open where they can finish the ball.”

Ruth finished things up when she made another smart read and run later in the second half. A good ball by Bassetti off a free kick was stopped on the goal line and cleared, only to have Ruth pick it off and put away the opportunity, running her season total to 19.

It was all around the exact type of performance the Vikings were looking for as they go into the postseason. Aside from the two goals, the veteran laden-defense was especially solid.

With the back line made up of seniors Bassetti, Strockoz, Jill Boyce and MacKenzie Conricode in front of senior keepers Samantha Baccari and Paige McQuillen, the unit posted a shutout on their day of recognition.

“It feels amazing because we needed a shutout,” Strockoz said. “It feels very good that we did it.”

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