Wadeline Florime Hall and Madia Bellebuono scored goals 1:28 apart in the first half, and a resilient Vineyard defense held off a relentless Sandwich attack in the second as the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls soccer team beat the Blue Knights, 2-1. Tuesday afternoon’s win at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs was the team’s first Cape and Islands League Atlantic Division win of the season.
Florime Hall scored on a breakaway midway through the first half, then followed up by slicing the Sandwich defense with a perfect through ball to an onrushing Bellebuono, who coolly slotted the ball past Sandwich keeper Sarah Lutsik for a quick 2-0 Vineyard lead.
The rest of the first half unfolded with little drama, but Sandwich came out blazing to start the second. After five minutes, the Blue Knights were on the board. Vineyard goalkeeper Ruby Reimann charged from the net to dive on a loose ball, but it squirted out behind her, and Sandwich’s Grace Cohen tapped a slow-roller over the goal line to make it 2-1.
The visitors had two chances for an equalizer in the next five minutes, but Reimann twice dove to her right to swat each shot out of danger.
From there, the Blue Knights piled up the possession in the Vineyard half of the field, but the Purple defense battened down the hatches and allowed few quality chances among more than a dozen shots, until the final minute, when Sandwich’s last kick whizzed wide of the right post.
“I can’t complain about the result,” Vineyard Coach Rocco Bellebuono said. “Yeah, there were some moments that were a little scary, but that’s how it goes. They couldn’t finish, so we walk away with the win. That’s what counts.”
For a program with precious few wins over several seasons, Tuesday’s victory, Coach Bellebuono believes, is a signal to other teams that playing the Vineyarders, especially at Dan McCarthy Field, is no longer an easy fixture on the schedule.
“I think everybody we’ve been playing is surprised,” he said. “I really don’t think that they expected to come over here and have it be as difficult as it has been, because they’ve been used to thinking, ‘Oh, it’s an easy game, we’re going to win big, we’ll score a bunch of goals,’ and that’s how it’s been for the past five years. Not anymore. So it’s a little bit of a wakeup call, and as soon as word gets out, it’s probably going to be harder for us, because then they’ll be ready to play. [Sandwich] was clearly a different team in the second half. They probably got their butts chewed out during halftime, and they came out and lit it up. They didn’t play that way in the first half. We took advantage of it, and that’s how you play the game. I’m super-proud of the girls. It’s really good for them to have this experience.”
The Vineyarders (2-4-1 overall, 1-2 C&I Atlantic) travel to Nauset on Thursday for another Atlantic Division match, then have a week off before hosting Falmouth on Oct. 3.