VERGENNES — The Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team on Saturday continued its revival season and made it a season sweep of county competitor Vergennes, winning 2-1 at VUHS.
The Eagles improved to 5-1-2. That number of wins equals the program’s combined total from 2009 and 2010.
Eagle junior striker Evy Jacobs, whose two first-half goals provided Saturday’s finishing touch, said talented new players and a collective desire to start winning has helped make the difference.
“We knew what we wanted from the beginning of the year, definitely to improve, and we have a new set of girls,” Jacobs said. “(And) we’re really tenacious this year, and we know what we want, what we’re going for.”
Mount Abe coach Dustin Corrigan added another element: improved team chemistry, which he attributes at least in part to the leadership of senior captains Sarah Bevet, a defender who is now injured, and midfielders Katrina Camara and Brooke Lossman.
“We thought to really achieve our team goals we first had to have really good team leaders, a good positive team chemistry and a good work ethic,” Corrigan said.
But, he said, it’s not only the leaders creating that chemistry. The team hands out two weekly honors: a “Nails and Glue Award” to the player who does the most to hold the team together, and a “Hammer and Sweat Award” to the hardest worker.
Corrigan said there have been multiple winners.
“We’ve got a lot of sweaty, sticky people on this team,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Commodores lost despite dominating the first 20 minutes of the second half, when they received a terrific goal from middie Lily Haigis set up by striker Ruby Dombek. Dombek broke down the right side and served perfectly to Haigis at about the penalty stripe, and Haigis one-timed it into the lower left corner at 33:16.
In that stretch, VUHS striker Kenadi Dattilio saw one long bid sail just high and another angled shot graze off the crossbar. Dattilio also served to Dombek, whose header sailed to the side, and saw Eagle goalie Ashlie Fay (eight saves) stop another long shot. Nice work by Casey Shea as well as Haigis at midfield kept the pressure on the Eagles.
VUHS coach Dwight Irish saw his team fall to 2-6 despite that surge, but he was happy with the way his team regrouped from the 2-0 first-half deficit.
“I’ll take that any day, all season. We got the ball and started putting it on feet, and we were calmer,” Irish said. “And we got a little fire under us.”
But this was the Eagles’ day, starting in the third minute. Sophomore middie Meghan Livingston, a threat all day on the right side, broke loose and fed Jacobs about 12 yards out off the right post. Jacobs took one touch into the space and fired a rocket high into the net over VUHS goalie Caitlin Chaput (14 saves).
The Eagle midfield of Camara, Lossman, M.K. Charnley, Casey Ogden and Livingston moved the ball well, especially creating runs outside to set up Jacobs and Nicole Norland up front.
Meanwhile, the Eagle back line of Harlie Vincent, Megan Ogden and Addy Campbell did well marking, stepping to the ball to break up VUHS advances, and making direct, simple passes to the Eagle midfield to trigger the attack. In the first half Fay came out to beat Dombek to the ball twice, but Fay spent long stretches idle.
“We wanted to win the battle of the midfield and really use the flanks well, and I think the girls did that,” Corrigan said.
The VUHS back line, especially sweeper Tabby Danyow, held up for the most part, and Chaput stopped a Norland penalty kick at 26:33.
But at 1:56, the Eagles made it 2-0. Norland sent a long through ball to Jacobs, who was first to the ball about 30 yards out. Chaput came out to meet her, and Jacobs struck the ball hard and low to Chaput’s left. Chaput got a piece of it, but it trickled in.
Then VUHS countered to open the second. But after the first 20 minutes or so, the Eagles reasserted their ball control and began to dominate possession. That good offense proved to be effective defense.
“Vergennes came out a different team in the second half and we stuck to our game plan,” Corrigan said. “Vergennes scored a great goal ... and we just stuck to possession, attacking the flanks and creating chances.”
The Eagles believe that approach could take them a long way.
“I’m really confident,” Jacobs said. “This is a new year, and I think we’re going to do well in the playoffs.”
Irish wants the Commodores to remember how they performed early in the second half.
“We have to find a way to start a little sooner, but I’m definitely pleased,” he said. “I’m not unhappy with the way we played.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.