Lane has been the bellwether for strength the rest of the Public League has measured itself against. The Indians have won the city title four of the last five years.
Lane looked to pick up where it left off and the Indians were ranked No. 14 to start the season. With a new coach, Michelle Vale-Suarez, some new players and others coping with injuries, the Indians have been a work in progress.
On the final game of the Public League’s regular season, Lane looked very much like the dominant team of old with four goals in the opening 18 minutes as the Indians bombarded Von Steuben 8-0 at home Wednesday afternoon.
Junior star midfielder Sofia Pavon, the city’s top player, scored three goals and recorded two assists. The George Washington recruit scored twice in the first three minutes for the Indians (9-4-2, 6-0-1 Premier).
“We didn’t want there to be any surprises, or be in a situation where we are fighting to score late,” Pavon said. “We wanted to come out and be ready right at the start.”
With the lopsided victory, the Indians clinched the top seed in the city tournament. Lane and Young tied 2-2 during the season and finished with the same conference mark. The Indians won out on the fourth tiebreaker.
“This is a lot better, and it is so much easier to find people,” Pavon said. She has five goals in the last two days. “We’ve been a while together and now we know what we’re doing.”
Lane leaped out to the commanding 6-0 lead at the break. After the early barrage by Pavon, senior defender Harper Albo drilled a ball from the left edge and junior Natalie Wade finished two breakaways.
Pavon helped create both of Wade’s goals by finding her in open space.
The more significant story is the Indians have the full complement of their weapons, especially with the return of junior midfielder Anastasia Niforos. She started as a freshman and sophomore and suffered a torn right ACL last fall.
Playing her third game of the season, Niforos entered the game in the 30th minute and scored her first goal by converting a penalty kick. Niforos ran for the girls city cross country champions to get ready for the season. She suffered the injury playing club soccer.
Her presence has added one more skilled, offensive-minded player. She played without a brace.
“They did a ligament test, and they said the right leg, the one I tore, is stronger than the other leg,” she said. Conditioning remains the biggest hurdle. “The first time I went out, I was like dying,” she said.
Niforos drilled the penalty kick into the upper right hand corner. “It’s great to be out there playing again,” Niforos said.
Lane maintained its edge to start the second half. Freshman forward Toyosi Oluwole scored in the 42n minute on a cross from Niforos. Pavon put the finishing touches on the rout with one of her trademark rocket shots.
Junior Patricia George produced the best scoring chance for the Panthers (3-5-3, 1-4-2) in the second half. Her free kick from about 24 yards out sailed high and wide.