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Sofia DeVito steps in, helps Kellenberg forge tie with Sacred Heart

Kellenberg and Sacred Heart tied, 1-1, in CHSAA girls soccer at Kellenberg on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Lindsay McShea scored the tying goal for Kellenberg. Credit: Newsday / Owen O'Brien

Sofia DeVito initially thought she did something wrong.

The sophomore was greeted by Kellenberg Athletic Director John Fechtmann while returning to the building from an outdoor study hall period Tuesday. She didn’t know why, and the furthest thing from her mind was a varsity promotion. But due to injuries, that’s exactly what was happening.

"I thought I was in trouble originally," DeVito said. "I knew they had three goalies and I was like, ‘All three of them can’t be hurt.' "

But all three were. DeVito is unsure how long she’ll be training with the varsity team, but she’s taking advantage of every moment. The sophomore goalkeeper had six saves and controlled the 18-yard box in host Kellenberg’s 1-1 tie with Sacred Heart Wednesday afternoon in CHSAA girls soccer action.

"It was very nerve wracking," DeVito said. "I felt a lot of pressure because I knew I was playing the whole game. I was very nervous because it’s varsity and they are older than me and it’s a big difference in competition and level of play than JV is, but I thought it was a lot of fun."

But DeVito’s coaches and teammates had confidence in the young goalkeeper.

"It’s nice to see the young players get a taste at the varsity level," coach Suzanne Sluka said. "I think she played a great game. She had confidence, she played well, strong in net, you couldn’t ask for anything better for a sophomore goalie first day playing varsity soccer."

Lindsay McShea, who plays club soccer with DeVito, said she expected her to be "awesome." And when Kellenberg (1-1-2) needed McShea to be awesome, she was also. The fellow sophomore drilled a 32-yard free kick with 4:39 remaining in the second half for the game’s final score.

"When they told me to take it," McShea said, "I knew I had to stay calm, stay composed and focus on getting the ball on frame."

Sacred Heart (1-2-1) struck first when Grace Byrne scored off a touch from Emily Harkins following a cross from Colleen Dorrian with 17:50 remaining in the second half.

"I thought it was going to go to Beth (McDermott) and someone would get a header in," Byrne said. "I didn’t expect it at my feet … it feels good to score in any game."

Kellenberg hopes to have its goalkeepers healthy shortly, including three-year starter Kylie McShea in about two weeks. That would put Kylie on track to return for the CHSAA semifinals, which could feature another matchup with Sacred Heart. Kellenberg and Sacred Heart have met in the semifinals the last three seasons. Sacred Heart won two of the three matchups, but Kellenberg won last year.

"They are a battle," Sluka said. "No matter what we do, it’s always going to be a battle between us."

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