Sussex Academy soccer sails to 5-0 win over Spartans

Fifth clean sheet of season, fourth in a row
April 17, 2024

Three hundred twenty-nine minutes of soccer in the wild Delmarva spring weather have been played against the Sussex Academy girls’ soccer team without a goal from any opponent. A 5-0 victory over Lake Forest April 16 secured the Seahawks’ fourth shutout in a row and fifth this season.

“We’ve talked about how to start matches quick, how to go right at teams and use what each individual on our roster is gifted to do,” said Seahawks coach R.J. Dina.

The girls eyed their target early and often, leading to a Tayler Flaherty goal in the second minute off a pass from fellow senior Cate Brown.

“I could see that I could take on that backline any day,” Flaherty said. “Cate and I work well together and we came out firing. We knew we had to give it to them and not stop at all. This is a Southern Division team in the Henlopen Conference.”

Brown scored her first goal unassisted in the 15th minute to make it 2-0. Three minutes later, she dropped a beautiful cross into the six, where Flaherty was waiting to send it across the goal line to expand the lead to 3-0. Roles were reversed in the 23rd minute, when Flaherty found Brown for the team's third and Brown’s second goal in eight minutes. The seniors say one reason for their results is the on-field connection the two share and the way they hold each other to a high standard.

“We're constantly trying to create and trying to find each other,” Brown said. “I would say our chemistry has grown so much over the past year.”

Senior Carmen Merrick concluded the first-half scoring in the 38th minute on a Brown corner kick. The center-back leaped up through a sea of Spartans to give Sussex Academy a 5-0 lead. 

Lake Forest clamped down in the second half, but the Seahawks continued to generate quality looks. Junior forward Natalie Roblero Chavez was joined by young wingers Paige Ballinger, Maya Hastings and Riley Moriarty in hustling toward the goal and on the counter-press. They were unable to produce a strike but came close.

“We talk about IQ and how to read the game and where they should be in certain moments,” Dina said. “They’re intelligent players, and sometimes it’s about the experience or feel of the game.”

Defensively, Grace Fiorilla made two saves. Seniors Merrick, Fiorilla and Grace Kilroy teamed up with juniors Ashley Alvarez Chavez and Sienna Serpico to once again produce a shutout.

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