Captain Kate Howarth teams up with newcomer Abby Sotomayor to propel team to win
In front of a standing-room only crowd at East Longmeadow High School, the New England Mutiny (1-0 UWS East) renewed acquaintances with their old rival New York Magic (0-1 UWS East) in their 2016 home opener. The last time the two teams met was during the 2001 season with the Mutiny coming away victorious. The same result held true 15 years later as the home side scored the game-winner early in the first half for the 3-0 win.
Team captain Kate Howarth scored two goals for New England in front of the 900-plus in attendance while new signing Abby Sotomayor added a goal and an assist in the victory. Howarth would net the eventual game-winning goal in the 8th minute of play, as she dribbled in 1 v. 1 on goal thanks to a through-ball by Stephanie Santos and slotted her shot past Magic goalkeeper Samantha Depken (nine saves).
“The combination play we did up top today was really good,” said Howarth. “We combined well. We did a couple of give and go’s and found some openings and put some good shots on frame.”
For Mutiny Head Coach Joe Abele, the three first-half goals was a great sign for his team, especially at this point in the United Women’s Soccer season. The team is still beginning to get to know one another and the early goal helped spur the team on to the win.
“The offensive output tonight was quite a refreshing change from previous years,” joked Abele. “It just shows that we have great kids with great chemistry and good things happened. The chemistry flowed through and as you could see, success was in the cards for this evening.”
After Howarth’s game-winning goal, New England kept up the pressure on the New York defense. In the 14th minute, Sotomayor drove a rocket on the Magic goal only for Depken to tip her shot off the crossbar. Fourteen minutes later, the 2015 NSCAA H.S. All-American would get her goal, as she received a pass from midfielder Charlie Branch and shed her defender at the top of the penalty area.
Depken ran out of goal to decrease the angle of her shot but Sotomayor would lift the ball over the keeper for the second Mutiny goal of the night. That wouldn’t be enough for the Colgate University rising freshman, as she assisted on Howarth’s second goal of the match in the 31st minute. The team captain got her shot past Depken with a cheeky side-footed flick of her boot for the 3-0 advantage.
Midfielder Romina Bell almost put New England up 4-0 in the 41st minute, but her powerful free kick from distance would sail just over the cross bar. In the second half, New York came out with more purpose but their momentum would stall. Yet, they would almost score a goal of their own in the 65th minute as Gabriela Morales unleashed a drive that caromed off the upper 90 of the goal for their best scoring chance of the night.
Mutiny goalkeeper Anne-Marie Ulliac (five saves) would breathe a sigh of relief after that one, and she and her team would hold on for the clean sheet and first win of the 2016 season. New England will head south next weekend as they take on the Lancaster Inferno in their season opener at Millersville University’s Pucillo Field on Sunday, May 22 (5:00 PM kickoff). The Mutiny return home on Saturday, June 4th when they host Lancaster at East Longmeadow H.S. in the rubber match of the season series (7:00 PM kickoff).
“Its quite simple,” said Abele, anticipating next weekend’s match at Lancaster. “Our philosophy is we go into every game with the team we’re about to play being better than us and we have everything to prove. We have to prove that we deserve to be there. That’s how we approach each game.”