ONEONTA — When a program graduates nine players, including six starters — two of whom earned all-state recognition — names are going to change.
If you’re one of the holdovers, it can get confusing.
“One thing I had trouble with, I’d see the position I wanted to play to and I’d start calling out someone else’s name,” Oneonta High senior Mariah Ruff said.
Still, following Tuesday’s 6-0 dismantling of Windsor in the Yellowjackets’ season-opener at the Wright National Soccer Campus, the new bosses on OHS’ girls soccer roster appear to be the same as the old ones.
They’re still very good, in other words.
Instead of Cami Cleaveland and Dani Nicosia — both all-state selections as seniors — directing the offense, it was Taylor Hitchcock and Abby Picinich.
Rather than Amy Hait, Jennifer Jelic and Shelby Cleaveland protecting goalie Emmalee Sloman, it was Rachel Brown, Alicia Arcidiacono and Meg Burns playing in front of keepers Maddie Grau and Miranda Kreger.
“People talk all the time about all the things we lost and we did lose a ton of talent and most of those girls are playing in college, but I keep trying to tell people we have a lot back,” said OHS coach Jerry Mackey, whose team fell, 3-1, in overtime to Greece Odyssey in last season’s Class B state final. “The kids we had coming off the bench last year are starting this year and now it’s their turn. We’re trying to pick up where we left off.”
On a cloudy and breezy day, the new-look Yellowjackets scored five times before the midway point of the first half.
When Ruff and Hitchcock converted shots from well outside the penalty box, Oneonta had a 2-0 lead 2 minutes, 11 seconds into play.
Ruff, who shared Daily Star Player of the Year honors with teammate Madison Miller in 2012, started the barrage with a perfectly placed shot from about 28 yards. In the right-center of the field, Ruff lofted a shot to the far post that made slight contact with the upper portion of the left post before setting into the goal to give Oneonta a 1-0 lead 1:20 into play.
“It was nice to see it go into the goal,” Ruff said of her first shot of the season.
Hitchcock, a sophomore, scored the first of her three goals 51 seconds later. Ruff laid a pass back to Hitchcock, who sent a liner from 25 yards that caromed off the crossbar and over the line to make it 2-0.
“We did great, especially for the first game,” said Hitchcock, a reserve on last year’s squad. “I think we all impressed each other to be honest.”
Hitchcock struck again at the 29:19 mark. It started with one of Ruff’s long throw-ins, this one coming from the left side. The ball skipped past a couple of players before making its way to Hitchcock, who touched it once, turned and lined it inside the right post from 10 yards.
Junior Taryn More got into the act at the 23:38 mark. Following a sophomore season that included 18 goals, More’s first of 2013 came after a failed clearing attempt by Windsor’s defense. More controlled a loose ball in the box and drove a high shot from 12 yards into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, More made it 5-0. More’s low liner from the left side deflected off a Black Knights defender and into the goal.
“We bring a lot of athleticism in our starting 11 and we have some girls off the bench that will contribute in certain situations as well,” said Mackey, adding his squad traveled downstate a week ago and went 2-2 in scrimmages against perennial state powers Monroe-Woodbury, Cornwall, Washingtonville and North Rockland.
Mackey substituted often and moved players around following the early onslaught.
The final goal came about a minute into the second half. More sent a low corner kick to the right edge of the box. Sophomore Picinich re-directed it into the box and Hitchcock finished inside the right post from 15 yards.
“We had a couple of starters leave (to graduation) and they were great leaders, and I’m seeing other people step up as leaders and help the team come together,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve been able to fill some holes.”
The two-time defending STAC champion Yellowjackets will travel to Norwich at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Oneonta 6, Windsor 0
Windsor 0 0 – 0
Oneonta 5 1 – 6
Windsor (2-1, 0-1): None.
Oneonta (1-0, 1-0): Mariah Ruff 1-1, Taryn More 2-1, Taylor Hitchcock 3-0, Abby Picinich 0-1.
Shots-corner kicks: O 19-8; W 2-0.
Goalies: Emily Sisson (W) 8; Maddie Grau (O) 0, Miranda Kreger 2.
Rob Centorani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-432-1000, ext. 209.