WESTBROOK—Sanford got the better of the Lady Blazes 6-0 on Saturday morning, Sept. 14: The Spartans went up 4-0 on Westbrook through the first half, then tallied a pair more in the latter 40 minutes.

And yet, Westbrook looked plenty respectable at times.

“We feel really good about our defense; we’ve been working really hard since preseason, kind of solidifying a good defense,” Westbrook head coach Laura Locke said. “We’ve been playing around with positioning; I’ve had different girls playing fullback, different girls playing sweeper, and now I finally feel comfortable with the defense that we have. So now we have to start working on pushing the ball up. And you could see that as one of the weaknesses that we have: Pushing the ball up and attacking the goal.”

Olivia Coppeta looked solid for the Blazes vs. Sanford on Saturday. Adam Birt / American Journal

The Blazes opened the second half in control for a long stretch, pinning the Spartans in their own third of the field, along the right sideline. Give freshman Brianna Lopez credit for her work up front during that part of the contest.

Asked what cost her girls the goals they gave up, despite her feeling the team’s defensive layout is solid, Locke zeroed in on their talk: “Some communication breakdowns,” she said.

Locke was quick to emphasize the positives. “One thing I’m really happy with is that the girls didn’t give up,” she said. “It’s very easy for a soccer player – it’s very easy for a goalie – to give up after a few shots go in, and the girls didn’t do that. I think that’s something to be celebrated.”

Offensively, junior Morgan Cooledge burned hottest for the Blazes, landing a number of shots on-net. Sanford’s defense forced Cooledge to shoot from a distance – 10, 20 yards – but she found the frame often enough, and she did so from both sides and the middle. Spartans keeper Linda Johnson simply stopped whatever she faced.

“Getting shots on-net is going to be our focus from now on,” Locke said. “Morgan had the majority of shots on goal. She is phenomenal in the middle of the field.”

Locke praised others in her lineup as well: “Carolyn (Dibiase), my sweeper, amazing job. She’s a beast on defense – I think she saved a goal at one point. Just an awesome job. Olivia (Coppeta), my wing, she’s been doing great.”

Sanford pushed back into midfield, and then into Westbrook’s end once more, with roughly 33 minutes remaining in the second. At 27:28, the team made it 5-0 with a roller of a shot from the top-left: The ball snuck by Blazes goalie Nicole Morse, rushing out to engage her Spartans aggressors.

Sanford capped their day with a precision strike, a ball that sailed just over Morse – leaping, with her arms, her fingers outstretched above her head – and just beneath the crossbar. The shot was flawless, and it’s hard to count it against Morse, who stood zero chance of stopping it.

Westbrook, now 0-2, has a rough road ahead of them this week. The Blazes play host to undefeated Scarborough on Tuesday the 17th, and travel to also-undefeated Noble two days later. Wish them luck.

Bev Mangal crashes the sideline, pressuring the Sanford opposition there. Adam Birt / American Journal

Brianna Lopez vies with a pair of Spartans. Adam Birt / American Journal

Sydney Mullett clashes with a Sanford opponent. Adam Birt / American Journal

Westbrooker Morgan Cooledge tallied numerous solid shots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Allie Petry scoots upfield, in possession for the Blazes. Adam Birt / American Journal

Meghan Horner battles a Sanford opponent. Adam Birt / American Journal

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