By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Sophomore Lauren McLaren connected in the 79th minute as Our Lady of Mercy rallied for a 1-1 draw with host Aquinas, Friday evening.
McLaren converted on a corner kick for the equalizer.
“This is our third game in five days, and we were running on fumes,” said first-year Mercy head coach Adam Stryker. “They just played tough until the very end. I was super-proud of them for that.”
Junior Sophia Stamoulacatos served a ball from the left flag that McLaren one-timed off the turf from the middle of the 18-yard box.
“The fact that we kept pushing and pushing says a lot about the heart and determination of this team,” Stryker said.
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) September 16, 2023
Bella Muratore gave Aquinas the lead in the 58th minute when the sophomore redirected a cross from teammate Sienna Fallone.
After being outshot, 3-1 over the first 40 minutes of action, Aquinas was able to build its offense early in the second half.
“In the first half, we gave them too much time on the ball,” Aquinas head coach Adam Schwartz said. “In the middle of the park, we were letting them receive a ball, turn, survey the field and then play a ball. The strategy in the second half was high pressure, get in their space, make them feel uncomfortable and don’t give them time on the ball.
“Once we won it, we played our game. We’re a possession-type football team. We want to keep the ball. We were able to do that.”
Fallone beat a pair of Mercy defenders to the touch line along the right flank and the freshman served a ball that Muratore, unmarked just outside the six-yard box, redirected for the Aquinas lead.
58’ Bella Muratore gives Aquinas a 1-nil lead. pic.twitter.com/GPIV908bz9
— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) September 15, 2023
“I was a little disappointed after we scored,” Schwartz said. “We kinda went back into a defensive posture which happens, but we will grow from that. That’s when you go for it. That’s a teachable moment for them. We’re young. Failure and struggles are a valuable part of the learning process.”
Aquinas held Mercy without a shot on goal for the first 30 minutes of the second half. The Monarchs were able to push forward late in the contest. The tying goal came on Mercy’s fifth corner kick of the game.
“There were times when there was a lull,” Stryker said. “You make adjustments. Our girls are intelligent players, and they know the adjustments they need to make. Credit to them for making those adjustments they needed to make on the field. Pretty good result considering all things.”
Mercy (1-2-2) opened the week with scoreless draw against Clarence of Section VI. The Monarchs returned to Buffalo on Wednesday and defeated Nardin Academy, 4-2.
Aquinas (5-1-1) lost to seven-time reigning sectional champion Spencerport 1-0 in overtime earlier in the week.
Aquinas keeper Liz Tantalo made four saves.
Mercy’s Bella Mitrano stopped three shots.
The same two teams meet on October 10th at Mercy.