ST. ALBANS - The BFA and MVU faithful were back at Collins Perley on Saturday evening, cheering on the D1 Comets and D2 Thunderbirds as they battled under the lights to kick off their 2021 soccer season.

At the end of the game, Comet senior Sophie Zemianek reflected on the opportunity to play a 'normal' season after playing under Covid-19 restrictions in 2020.

"We played under the lights last year, but it's nothing like having all these people cheering you on. 'It's so electric,' as the boys would say," said Zemianek.

Both teams played a fast and skilled first half, remaining scoreless until 9:24 when Ryan Campbell broke through MVU defenders to put the Comets on the board.

The Comets left the first half with a 1-0 advantage.

Tessa Sweeney's outstanding goal at 35 minutes in the second half gave the Comets a two-goal lead.

Less than ten minutes later, Molly Smith battled in traffic to tack on the third and final goal for BFA and seal the 3-0 victory.

"First of all, I thought MVU was organized, they were strong in the back, and their sweeper played really well. We did a nice job trying to play the tempo we wanted to play and playing with a little more possession than we have in the past," said Comet coach Ben Marlow.

"I love our willingness to learn, to try, and to be brave. You saw Rachel Needleman sprint down the sideline, making a 60-yard run; she didn't even get the ball, but she just did it like it was nothing. That's what I want our mindset to be.

"Ayla (Shea) was wonderful in goal; she's got great hands, she's smart with the ball, and she knows when to come out and challenge.

"We've got girls who are having fun and working so hard. They're doing the small things right, and we're hoping that's going to pay off like it did today against a really strong team. This was a good first competition for us."

MVU coach Roy Adams liked what he saw from his Thunderbirds as they played a physical game with their in-county rival.

"I thought we played a phenomenal game. BFA got a couple of good goals, but we held our own. I thought our possession was really good, and I'm excited about how we played," said Adams.

Shanneal Unwin was in goal for the Thunderbirds.

"Shanneal played very well for her first varsity start; she was put to the test and passed. I think both the goalies I have are going to do a super job," said Adams.

My defense was so good; I'm pretty excited about the season, and I think we're going to have a pretty good year."

The Comets and Thunderbirds will face each other again on Wednesday, September 15 at 4:30.

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