Allentown topples Notre Dame, 3-0, in Senior Day soccer match

Allentown High School girls soccer player Kayla Denney kicks the ball up the field during the team's game against Notre Dame on Oct. 28 in Allentown. Denney scored a goal and had an assist in the team's 3-0 victory over Notre Dame.

Allentown High School girls soccer coach Kim Maurer and her players went against the norm most schools followed during 2020 and waited to hold the annual Senior Day celebration until their final home match of the regular season.

Because of COVID-19, many teams held Senior Day earlier in the campaign, but the Redbirds were hopeful they would be still playing in late October.

Maurer and the Redbirds got their wish and Senior Day 2020 was held on Oct. 28 when Allentown hosted Notre Dame High School of Lawrenceville in a top-tier Colonial Valley Conference showdown.

Following a scoreless first half, Allentown came out rolling on all cylinders in the second half and earned a 3-0 victory to improve to 5-2-1.

“We are very grateful we are here playing at the end of October and that we were able to honor the seniors like we normally would,” Maurer said. “Every girl is playing like it’s her last game because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring and the players are doing a fantastic job.”

On their special day, the seniors led the way in the second half. Senior goalkeeper Grace Welsh made a key save to begin the second half as she reached up with her right hand to knock away a shot by Notre Dame’s Cami Beetel.

Welsh’s save proved to be a momentum builder for Allentown as it led to senior Kayla Denney knocking home her team-high seventh goal of the season moments later for a 1-0 lead.

Welsh finished with 10 saves and earned her first shutout of the season. She was pleased with how her teammates performed to score a “huge win.”

“It felt amazing to win this game. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said.

Denney helped to extend the lead to 2-0 with just over 10 minutes gone in the second half. The senior sent a cross into the box where sophomore Fallon Mazza was able to get her head on the ball and direct it into the net for her second goal of the season.

It was the second assist of the season for Denney, who said it felt great to defeat Notre Dame on Senior Day.

“Coming off our loss against Hopewell Valley, we needed to win this game and make a statement. Once we got the first goal we knew we were going to get our shots off and that it came down to us putting the ball in the back of the net. We couldn’t have worked any harder and I am so proud of all the girls,” she said.

Olivia Denney, Kayla’s sister, is second on the team with six goals.

Junior Ari Bruno scored her third goal of the season to cap Allentown’s victory with five minutes to play.

Freshmen Lindsay Hines and Bella Conti have each scored two goals and recorded an assist this season, while junior Christina Golden dished out her third assist in the victory over Notre Dame.

Coming off a tough 2-1 loss against Hopewell Valley on Oct. 24, Maurer said she believes the Redbirds’ victory over Notre Dame will be a confidence booster for her players and shows they are right there as one of the best teams in the conference.

Maurer said she has been pleased with the way the players have improved in each game and hopes that continues as Allentown prepares for the state sectional tournament.

“This (win) gives us more confidence knowing we are up there at the top of the CVC. The girls played great. We are not a finished product yet. We are still working hard every day to get to that finished product, but we are getting better in every game and being healthy helps, too,” Maurer said.

With uncertainty as to whether there would be a 2020 season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Maurer and her players stayed together and believed they would have the chance to play together this fall.

The Redbirds have gotten that opportunity and as Maurer said, the players are grateful for every chance they have to play.

Basking in the glow of her outstanding performance that helped her team win on Senior Day, Denney said she will always remember being able to share the moment with her teammates, whom she calls her best friends.

“To have a season and to be doing so well and be coming off a win like this is a great experience. We are super close as friends off the field and I think that is showing on the field. It would mean the world to us to have a great season. I don’t think there is anything stopping us from getting there,” she said.