Manlius Pebble Hill girls soccer stays undefeated with 3-0 win over Faith Heritage
Manlius Pebble Hill girls soccer coach Pat Bentley Hoke was concerned about a credibility problem during her postgame speech to the Trojans on Thursday.
She acknowledged to her gathered girls that she’d never given a review with a “Hello Kitty” cupcake in one hand and a toy ring of the same brand in the other. The treats were dished out as a celebration for junior midfielder Alexia Melendez Martineau’s 16th birthday, and the player loves that character.
“It’s great. I don’t know. It brings out the child in me,” Melendez Martineau said.
Fortunately for Bentley Hoke, the postgame chat could be kept light. Her Trojans toppled visiting Faith Heritage 3-0, courtesy of two goals from Lizzy Dean and one from the birthday girl.
The win improved MPH’s record to 6-0, a span in which it has outscored opponents by a combined 20-1.
“I think we’re doing well,” Bentley Hoke understated as she held a orange-frosted cupcake in her hand. “The results have looked pretty, which is good. I have pretty high confidence in these girls.”
MPH is coming off a 10-8 season last year, and the reasons for a much higher ceiling now are plentiful and obvious. The first is the continued development of Melendez Martineau, a diminutive sparkplug whose speed makes her the hardest Trojan to contain.
She had several chances Thursday and finally cashed in with 17:52 left in the game to send her team up 2-0.
“I think my advantage is I can run a lot and I’m fast,” Melendez Martineau said. “I think the strength of this team is we have a lot of players who are good, really good. We know intuitively where each other is going to be.”
That’s even true of Dean, a senior midfielder who is the new ingredient to the mix. She transferred from Marcellus last year and had to sit out the soccer season. So she competed in cross country in the fall, and qualified for states.
Now, she just runs the steam out of opponents. Thursday, she tallied two second-half goals and only a cranky post kept her off the scoreboard for a third time.
“I push through (the fatigue). It’s for the team,” Dean said. “We’ve been working on fitness, all of us. I think that’s one of our strengths. We just keep running.”
Bentley Hoke wouldn’t speculate on how far the Trojans can take this track meet, but Dean is pretty optimistic about the team’s ultimate finish line.
“The team is awesome,” she said. “I think we can go far this year if we stay focused.”
And, as her players smacked their lips and licked frosting from their fingers, Bentley Hoke confirmed the most important bond.
“They have fun together,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”