CHATHAM — The girls’ soccer team headed to Maple Hill last Thursday with a share of first place on the line. Back in September the Wildcats handed Chatham their only league loss of the year, 4-1, while Maple Hill has continued to run over the league. If the Panthers wanted a legitimate shot at claiming at least a partial share of the league title, they had to pull the upset on the road. But in the end, three goals by Taylor Czajkowski helped give Maple Hill a 3-1 win.
From the start both teams had plenty of chances, as Maple Hill’s leading goal scorer, Meeghan Arno, and Chatham’s scorer Cailey Nieto both had shots glance off the crossbars in the first half. While each team had advantages in the action, the Panthers seemed to have a slight edge heading into halftime.
After 40 minutes that saw lots of offense but no goals, the game was less than 10 minutes into the second half when the scoring got started. The Wildcats had the ball around the Chatham box and the Panthers struggled to clear. Czajkowski found space with the ball and fired to the near post, with the shot going off the sprawling Chatham keeper and finding its mark.
Almost right off the ensuing kickoff, Nieto found herself dribbling in one-on-one with the goal keeper, but the goalie was able to come out and slide to take the ball right off Nieto’s feet. Off the Maple Hill restart the Wildcats were whistled for off sides, and Victoria Bemiss set up for a deep free kick. Her kick swept across the width of the field and found the feet of Regina Behn, who fired off the keeper and quickly sprinted in and put that second chance away to tie the game.
Maple Hill kept coming in the second half, and in the 54th minute took the lead again. Czajkowski broke in on the right wing and picked up her head to find a cutting teammate in the middle of the field, but her cross instead found its way toward the goal, just out of the reach of Chatham goalie Brittany Lossow and into the side netting. Czajkowski would add one more in the second half, and despite continued strong play by the Panthers they were not able to strike again.The loss keeps the Panthers alone in second place in the Patroon Conference as they set up with three home games left on their schedule before post season play. Chatham will host Taconic Hills this Wednesday then Hudson the following Wednesday with a make-up against Catskill still on tap.