The Middletown High School girls soccer team picked the right time to put everything together in one game.
The Knights' most complete performance early this season lifted them to a 3-0 victory against visiting Gov. Thomas Johnson High in Thursday's Monocacy Valley Athletic League Piedmont Conference opener.
The win avenged Middletown's 3-0 loss to the defending league champion Patriots last fall.
“We haven't been playing horribly or anything, but [Thursday] was definitely our most complete game. We finally made the connection through the back and the middle,” said longtime Knights coach Heather Kline, whose team improved to 2-1 this season.
Soccer games on artificial turf fields, like the one at Middletown's Tim Ambrose Stadium, are played at a faster pace than on natural grass, and that means mistakes are magnified.
Middletown made very few of those.
The Knights played with a purpose Thursday. They were connecting on passes in their possession-style attack. And they used the width of the field effectively to keep Thomas Johnson chasing.
And the Patriots (1-1-1), who were making their first appearance on turf this fall, struggled to keep up with the pace.
“One bad touch on turf is going to show,” said Thomas Johnson coach Craig Muschik. “The runs are much quicker. We weren't able to get our midfield forward.”
While the Patriots' offense struggled, their defense shined Thursday.
Middletown maintained control on offense for all but approximately three minutes.
Middletown tallied nine shots on goal to Thomas Johnson's one, which didn't come until late in the second half.
The Knights took nine corner kicks to the Patriots' three.
But amid a barrage of attacks, Thomas Johnson managed to hold Middletown to one goal in the first half and two quick early goals in the second half.
Knights sophomore striker Haley Dalphon scored twice. Her first goal less than 15 minutes into the game gave Middletown a 1-0 lead. She added the insurance goal in the 45th minute.
Senior Mackenzie Noel put the game out of reach with a fantastic header off junior Mary Pritts' well-placed corner kick in the 47th minute.
“The kids are coming from playing in a lot of different places through the spring,” Kline said. “We worked all preseason on just possession, playing lots of small-sided games and talking about the things we need to do to play together. We did all of that [Thursday]. I like watching games when we connect.”
Middletown 3, Thomas Johnson 0
Thomas Johnson (1-1-1) 0 0 — 0
Middletown (2-1) 1 2 —3
Middletown — Haley Dalphon (2), Mackenzie Noel.
Middletown — Gabrielle Riggs, Alizah Johns-Boehme, Mary Pritts.