BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River junior Courtney Clasen scored three goals Saturday night in the Wildcats’ 5-0 win over East Hampton.
WILDCATS 5, BONACKERS 0
Courtney Clasen is listed on the Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer roster as a midfielder and goalkeeper, but don’t look for her to tend goal any time soon.
Not after Saturday night’s performance in which she made life miserable for East Hampton keeper Francesca Schelfhat and her teammates.
Clasen struck for a hat trick in the Wildcats’ 5-0 triumph in the League VI match, heading home two goals. Just as importantly, she pulled the attacking strings of the Wildcats (3-2 League VI, 4-2) in Shoreham.
The junior All-County midfielder had many spectators and coaches uttering superlatives about her magnificent performance.
“She’s an unbelievable player,” said Shoreham boys coach Andrew Moschetti, whose team played in the second game of a rare soccer doubleheader on the school’s football field on Senior Pride Weekend. “Every coach would love to have a player like her on the team. Coach [Adrian] Gilmore and the girls are lucky to have her.”
Gilmore added: ”She’s my key player. Everything comes from the middle from her goes to the outside and back through the middle. At times she’s taking on two, three defenders and comes out with the ball. She’s just a tremendous athlete. It’s so nice to watch her play.”
But perhaps not so nice if you are the opposing coach, although East Hampton coach Mike Vitulli, whose team fell to 0-6 in league, praised Clasen.
“They are very dangerous in the air,” he said. “Any free kick is a problem. Clasen, she’s just unbelievable in the air. She just comes out of nowhere.”
About the only person who wasn’t impressed was Clasen herself.
“It was all right,” she said. “My passes were a little off.”
Maybe, maybe not.
But one thing was quite certain — she was spot on when shooting at the goal, whether it was with her feet or head.
By the time Clasen had scored the Wildcats already had a 2-0 lead. Emily Blunnie put in an Emily Sopko feed from 25 yards with 27:39 remaining in the first half before defender Shannon Lamprecht knocked the ball into her own net with 25:14 left. She increased the lead to 3-0 off a left-wing cross from Alex Kunhle with 8:46 remaining in the half.
Clasen was devastating on air balls. She is 5-7, but she jumps like a player who is several inches taller.
“We had a real hard covering her every which way,” Vitulli said. “She gets up over the ball and she’s real weapon for them.”
Clasen said that she likes to go sky high. “It’s one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “I just get up in the air and use my height and knock it in.”
We’ll never know how Clasen the goalkeeper would fare against Clasen the midfielder. Shoreham goalkeeper Kelly Wynkoop gave Gilmore and the rest of the Wildcats a scare when a Bonacker player kicked her in the knee with 35:13 remaining in the match. Wynkoop was OK, but had she not been able to play, Clasen would have had to come on.
“I was very concerned, with Kelly being such a great force in the back to lose her,” Gilmore said. “It’s detrimental to the team. And to take Courtney off the field and have to put her in goal, you’re taking two of your key players, best players on the team and shaking it up. And that’s never what you want to do in a game.”
A little more than two minutes later, Calsen scored again, heading in a 35-yard free kick from Blunnie with 33:54 left. She made it a natural hat trick, scoring from point-blank range with 31:21 remaining. Clasen never got an opportunity for another goal because Gilmore sat her down for the remainder of the contest.
Gilmore hoped that she never will have an opportunity to use Clasen in the nets, even if she has stood out in the position for her club team, Sound Beach Stingrays United.
“No, I would never put her in goal,” Gilmore said. “But the best thing about her if you saw her in goal, she’s equally as good as good in the goal. If she was a different kid and on a different team, she would be the goalie. She is a tremendous goalie.”
And for one night, a hat trick hero.