BRISTOL — In a competitive match on Tuesday, the Vergennes Union High School girls’ soccer team scored twice in the first 41 minutes and then held off determined host Mount Abraham to win, 2-0.
The win was the third straight for the 6-5 Commodores after a four-game losing streak. Unofficially, they are No. 5 in the Division-II standings.
Senior midfielder Gen Cohn, who set up sophomore Kenadi Dattilio’s pad goal in the second half’s first minute, said the Commodores have bounced back from their losing streak.
“We’ve turned it around. We hit a bit of a rough patch, but we’re really coming together,” Cohn said. “We’re really putting our passes together and we’re really playing as a team, which is making a huge difference.”
Those three straight wins have all come by shutout, as goalie Christina Stinchfield (five saves on Tuesday), sweeper Molly Brigan and defenders Rikki Cloutier, Tabby Danyow and Ashley Brunet have been tough to dent.
“Our defense is doing a great job,” Cohn said. “Sometimes our midfield has a rough time marking up, and our defense is doing a great job covering and staying on their marks and just ... really taking control.”
First-year Mount Abe coach Dustin Corrigan’s team fell to 3-8 despite improved play: In their past two outings the Eagles defeated Middlebury and lost in overtime at St. Albans, a nine-win D-I team. On Tuesday the Eagles earned plenty of territory and more corner kicks than VUHS (7-4).
They also dominated the final 30 minutes, something Corrigan hopes they will remember during their final three games.
“They didn’t quit. Every girl out there did something to try to help her team and put her mark on the match,” Corrigan said. “If we’d started the match with that mindset and level of intensity, it could have been different ... Unfortunately, the first 50 minutes of the match was mostly them. We’ve got to do a little better job before the match of getting ready to play.”
The Eagles had the first great chance. In the fourth minute middie Rachael Zeno found middie Liza duPont in the top left side of the box. duPont struck a looping shot toward the far corner, but Stinchfield made an over-the-shoulder save.
Then the Commodores started to press, with dangerous runs from Lexa Higbee and Dattilio, several set up by Cohn and Margaret Quinn at midfield. Eagle senior defender Colleen Charnley cleared one Higbee corner kick and blocked a Dattilio shot, and senior backs Jenn Gibson and Sophie Owen-Jankowski also held up well under the pressure.
Mount Abe had another chance, but middie Casey Ogden fired wide on a serve from the left side from forward Evy Jacobs.
Then VUHS struck at 16:55 on senior Margy Kerschner’s first career goal. Higbee sent a ball across the box from the right, and it went to Kerschner about 10 yards off the left post. She fired a low shot to Eagle goalie Shanna Gebo’s left. Gebo (seven saves) got a piece of it, but the ball trickled in.
In the 33rd minute, Stinchfield couldn’t handle a Jacobs serve cleanly, but Brunet beat Eagle forward Jena Whitaker to the ball and cleared it away.
With the Commodores attacking a minute into the second half, Cohn rolled a pass to Dattilio, and she fired a 23-yard shot high into the upper left corner, and it was 2-0.
The Eagles soon began to press, in part, Corrigan said, because of the work of Nicole Norland after she moved to midfield from defense and started setting up his forwards. Brigan broke up a Jacobs run, and Stinchfield beat Jacobs to a serve from Emily Sundstrom. Jacobs served from the left side, but the ball sailed just out of the reach of Whitaker’s diving heading attempt, and in the 28th minute Brunet cleared another Jacobs serve.
Mount Abe kept coming. Cloutier had to break up Sundstrom, and Brigan cleared a ball from Jacobs. In the 19th minute Brunet headed away a corner kick.
Gebo snuffed the best VUHS chance, snatching the ball from Higbee on a serve from Shauna LaFave. But soon the Eagles were back, and Brigan cleared a long-range Gibson direct kick.
The Eagles had two more chances in the final five minutes. Stinchfield retreated to snare a lofted bid from Jacobs, and Molly Hahr controlled on the left wing and set up Jacobs cutting through the box, but her blast sailed just left.
In all, Corrigan said the Eagles are making progress and can learn from Tuesday.
“We can take some positives from it, even though the score wasn’t in our favor,” he said.
VUHS coach Dwight Irish would like to see his midfielders and forwards communicate and possess the ball better when faced with the kind of pressure the Eagles applied on Tuesday, but he believes the Commodores have shown they can compete with anyone in D-II.
“We’re definitely feeling better,” Irish said. “We came out today wanting to set the tempo by taking control of midfield and popping one in, and then we did that. And in the second half we wanted to come out with a little more intensity than we did against Middlebury, and we did that. So, there’s some work to be done, but we definitely feel we’re headed where we want to be.”