COPENHAGEN — It may have been senior day for Copenhagen’s girls soccer team on Friday, but a trio of underclassmen led the way in forging its first victory of the season to also christen the school’s new turf field.
Sophomore Aubree Smykla and junior Raegan Dalrymple each scored a goal in the first half and junior goalie Charli Carroll made the lead stand up as the Golden Knights edged Lowville, 2-1, in a Frontier League game.
“It feels amazing, it feels like we accomplished something before the game even started,” Smykla said of the turf field.
“It’s a great feeling and we were really hoping to come out and win our first game on this field,” Dalrymple said.
It was just the second game of the season for both teams after soccer season had been pushed back from the start of September because of coronavirus precautions, with games beginning on Wednesday.
“This was very, very good,” Smykla said of the win. “The last game we played on the regular field we won and the first game we played on the turf we won, so that feels awesome.”
Copenhagen and Lowville and fellow Lewis County schools Beaver River and South Lewis are the only league teams playing soccer this fall.
The Golden Knights and Red Raiders, historically two of the top girls soccer programs in the league, then met in a somewhat rare meeting since the two schools don’t usually play in the sport.
“It was a good battle, it’s nice to play teams you can be real competitive with,” Copenhagen coach Charity Smykla said. “The kids are all playing different positions and they’re all picking up different things, we haven’t had a lot of time to figure out formations. Kids are coming off the bench and giving it all they can and it’s good to see them working hard.”
Copenhagen (1-0-1), which finished in a scoreless tie at Beaver River on Wednesday, took the initiative against Lowville to lead 1-0 on Smykla’s unassisted goal in the 28th minute.
Smykla scored on a free kick from 30 yards, curling the ball into the left side of the net.
“I told the girls, ‘soccer is about restarts a lot of times,’” Lowville coach Leo Sammon said. “There’s a lot of goals scored on restarts and their directs were outstanding with her shots.”
Lowville responded to tie the game only three minutes later as Taci Smith converted on Eliana Bronbrest’s corner kick from the left side in the 31st minute.
Then only five minutes later, Smykla helped set up the go-ahead goal again on a direct kick that Lowville goalie Olivia Brandel ranged high and managed to partially get a hand on. But the ball caromed off the crossbar and went right in front to Dalrymple, who put the Golden Knights ahead.
“Aubree has a direct kick anywhere on that field and I always feel confident with her because of her placement,” Charity Smykla said. “And I know if it isn’t placed to score, it’s placed where someone else will score. ... her kicks and Raegan’s finishes were awesome tonight. The kids have been waiting months to be able to hear that ball in the back of the net, so it was nice for them.”
“It was great, coach always taught us to sacrifice our body for a goal and we just really wanted this win,” Dalrymple said. “I was just looking for an opening and waiting for the perfect time to crash the goal.”
Carroll finished with 10 saves, with most of her work coming in the second half.
Lowville generated more pressure after halftime, including stretch of steady pressure midway through the second half, but to no avail.
“She did a great job, it’s her first year starting on the team and she’s really stepped up,” Charity Smykla said of Carroll. “She’s a really tall girl and we kind of use that to our advantage. She can reach, she’s really working this season on getting on the ground and she did that for a few of them, she was vocal and it’s nice to see.”
While Copenhagen sports only three seniors on the roster, Lowville has only four seniors.
Brandel finished with a pair of saves for Lowville (1-1), which edged South Lewis, 2-1, in its season opener Wednesday.
“I was happy with the effort,” Sammon said. “The kids are working hard and they’re willing to learn, this is a young group that is very coachable. They’re listening to everything we’re asking them to do, the veterans are stepping up to provide some leadership with all the seniors that we lost.”
Lowville and Copenhagen each won the Frontier League’s “B” Division and “D” Division titles last season, respectively.
The two schools did face one another in girls soccer back in 2015 and 2016 when Copenhagen moved up to play in the “B” Division, with the Golden Knights winning a state title in 2015.
Both teams will square off again twice more, at Lowville on Oct. 23 and back in Copenhagen on Oct. 30 in the season finale for both as each team is playing a shortened eight-game league schedule.
Due to coronavirus precautions, both teams also wore masks on the field and there was a water break midway through both halves.
“The girls are really into it, they don’t complain about the masks, they don’t complain about anything,” Sammon said. “I think they’re happy to be around each other and playing.”
“It sucks, it’s really hard to breath and then you always want to pull it down, you just can’t,” Dalrymple said of playing with a mask. “You try hard to work with it.”
After sometimes heavy rain earlier in the day moved out by game time, the match was played in chilly and breezy conditions, providing an atmosphere like playoff weather.
“I think for the most part I think this cold helps the kids because the masks don’t bother them in the cold,” Charity Smykla said. “It’s more of an issue just to keep them on. ... It was an emotional night for them, it’s nice to get games like this in, it’s something they’ve been waiting for since March.”