KNIGHTS 7, CLIPPERS 1
It takes a player of supreme confidence and unquestioned skill to do what Gennifer Vandeventer did on Tuesday.
As Smithtown Christian’s girls soccer game against Southold/Greenport started, Vandeventer approached Smithtown Christian coach Steve Chandler and said, “Coach, I want to do a hat trick today.”
Chandler replied, “O.K., Genn, go for it.”
That is just what the senior center midfielder did, too. Vandeventer recorded her second hat trick of the season for Smithtown Christian in a 7-1 defeat of Southold/Greenport at Southold High School. Vandeventer, who has eight goals to her credit this season, scored the first two goals of the game as well as the final one. She also had two assists, to boot.
“Genny’s got a hunger,” Chandler said. “She wants to score goals this year.”
Vandeventer, wearing a pink headband, put five of her game-high 12 shots on goal. She scored on two of her first three shots to spot Smithtown Christian (3-2, 3-1 Suffolk County League VII) a 2-0 lead.
A hand-ball call against Southold/Greenport goalkeeper Mariya Winkler, who carried the ball outside the penalty area, set up the first goal by Vandeventer, a 25-yard free kick that she drilled into the net in the 13th minute.
It was only 3 minutes 5 seconds later when Vandeventer struck again. An attempted clearance by the Southold/Greenport defense sent the ball right to Vandeventer and she drove a high shot from outside the penalty area that flew over Winkler’s head.
What makes Smithtown Christian a dangerous team is that Vandeventer isn’t the only one of the Knights who knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. Smithtown Christian, a Class D regional semifinalist last year, also received two goals and one assist from Chole Drzymala. Christy Clinton (assisted by Kristina Reuter) and Rebecca Giancana (assisted by Drzymala) also scored for the Knights.
Smithtown Christian had shown it can score in earlier games, including an 8-0 result against The Ross School (thanks in part to a Vandeventer hat trick) and a 6-2 pounding of Bishop McGann-Mercy.
“We’re working as a team, a unit, and we’re just winning games like we’re supposed to,” Vandeventer said. “It’s not just one person scoring, it’s everybody.”
Southold/Greenport (0-6, 0-3) would have been shut out for the fourth time this season if not for Willow Sutton’s contribution. Following passes by Jessica Carr and Juliane Van Gorden, Sutton put a shot inside the left goal post, making it 2-1 in the 31st minute.
The Clippers, still searching for their first win, have been outscored by opponents, 34-3.
“It’s been kind of a rough start,” said Southold/Greenport center midfielder Justina Babcock, who had 54 touches on the ball Tuesday. “We’re definitely a new team. We’re all new together and we have a lot of new girls coming up. We’re just trying to get our groove together and seeing what we can do as a team.”
It has been a difficult start to the season for the Clippers, but not one that they are unfamiliar with. They encountered similar difficulty at the start of last season, yet still finished just one game shy of qualifying for the playoffs.
“Last year kind of started out the same way,” Southold/Greenport coach Katy Smith said. “I had a lot of injuries right off the bat. I had to bring up girls from the J.V. It was the same type of thing.”
Winkler, a freshman transfer from Northport, played in her third varsity game since being promoted from the junior varsity team following an injury to the team’s first-string goalkeeper, junior Skye Gillispie. Gillispie broke her thumb in a game when a Mattituck player stepped on her hand. It was originally feared that she would be out for six weeks, but Smith said Gillispie may be cleared to play, at least as a field player, as soon as the team’s next game on Oct. 2 against Pierson/Bridgehampton.
Losing hasn’t been easy on the Clippers.
“It’s frustrating and I can understand,” said Smith, who continually shouts encouragement and instructions to her players from the sideline. “It kind of beats you down, but they get brought back up.”
On the plus side, Smith said she sees progress with each game.
“From the first game until this game, they’ve already made tremendous strides and have gotten so much better,” she said. “They all like each other and enjoy each other’s company and have team camaraderie, definitely. I’d say we need to become unified on the field. I think that’s really our next step, talking and understanding each other out on the field.”