By MIKE SMITH
On Sept. 15, the Eastchester Eagles held off a late charge from Dobbs Ferry to beat Dobbs 5-3 and win their second game of the season. For the veteran Eastchester squad, the match showcased some of the reasons–especially offensively–that Eastchester could be a contender in the section this year.
Eastchester brings back the majority of last year’s squad, with nine returning starters on the field. According to head coach Frank Fiore, that strong returning core has been a boon early in the season and has allowed the team to hit the ground running early in the season.
“To have the girls coming back understand the system, it means I’m doing less in terms of teaching the way we’re supposed to play,” Fiore said. “Instead of that, we can focus on how we can improve our scoring, improve our defense.”
The offense has been clicking thus far as evidenced by the win over Dobbs Ferry. Senior Monica DiDonato recorded a hat trick in the Sept. 15 win, while Anna Hughes and Rachel Burke–two players that Fiore said will be integral pieces to the puzzle this year–also found the net for Eastchester.
“We can get goals from all over the place, from every position,” Fiore said. “But Monica is our control center, so our goal is to get the ball on her feet so she can either shoot or distribute to the girls on the outside.”
Although Eastchester was playing without tri-captain Alessia Barca against the Eagles, Fiore was able to see flashes of what his team could do when they finally put all the pieces together. With a less experienced group on the defensive side of things, Fiore said it will be incumbent upon his middies and attackers to use their talent and experience to keep pressure on the opposition.
“Our style of play is to get possession and keep control,” Fiore said. “Our passing has been good and we need to stress getting the ball off our feet to keep it moving.”
As the three goals given up on Monday indicate, however, Eastchester will need to shore up its defense if it hopes to be a contender in Section I this fall, but Fiore is confident that the more experience the group accrues, the stronger it will be.
“We can always improve upon things, especially defense,” he said. “Our group is young, so we’re really going to need to mesh early if we want to be successful.”
Eastchester will face a stiff test on Sept. 23 when they take on a talented Bronxville team. The game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Eastchester High School.