Commodore girls foil Lamoille

VERGENNES — The No. 7 Vergennes Union High School girls’ soccer team dominated visiting No. 10 Lamoille on Tuesday, winning 4-0 in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
The Commodores improved to 7-8 by defeating the 5-10 Lancers. They will almost certainly travel to face No. 2 Milton in a 3 p.m. Saturday quarterfinal. Milton (11-3) was set to host No. 11 Otter Valley (2-11-1) in a first-round game on Wednesday played after the deadline for this edition of the Independent.
The Commodores will have to avenge a regular-season defeat to advance further: They lost at Milton on Sept. 26, 3-0. However, they had also lost to Lamoille at home Oct. 23, and bounced back strong to win the rematch.
VUHS co-coach Peter Maneen said the Commodores followed the game plan that he and co-coach Dwight Irish drew up after that Friday setback.
“We had a good training session to prepare for them, and the girls went out and did exactly what we asked them to,” he said.
Maneen said the Commodores also played with poise and purpose.
“The girls went out and dictated play,” he said. “They asserted themselves and took it at them.”
While goalie Christina Stinchfield (six saves) and VUHS defenders Molly Brigan, Ashley Brunet and Tabby Danyow worked the shutout, all four VUHS forwards — Natalie McClay, Kenadi Dattilio, Lexa Higbee and Rikki Cloutier — recorded a goal or an assist, while midfielders Gen Cohn and Greta Krahn picked up a goal and an assist, respectively.
McClay scored first. Cloutier served into the box, and Higbee knocked the ball away from Lancer goalie Elise Coolbeth (14 saves) as they collided near the top of the box. McClay pounced on the loose ball, chipping the ball over Coolbeth and Higbee and into the goal.
Higbee made it 2-0 midway through the half, taking a through-ball feed from Dattilio for a breakaway and beating Coolbeth with a right-footed shot into the right corner.
The Commodores stretched their lead in the second half. Cohn made it 3-0 when she powered past two defenders and hit the upper left corner with a left-footed shot. Cloutier capped the scoring by taking a feed from Krahn, sealing a defender and hitting the right corner with a left-footed shot.
Maneen said pushing Cloutier up from defense and relying on three defenders in the back is a gamble that is beginning to pay off.
“That’s been a big thing,” he said. “We’ve been looking for a little speed and aggression up top.”
The playoff road will become tougher, but Maneen said the Commodores may now be ready for the challenge.
“We’re happy with how they went out and played yesterday, really taking control of the game from the start,” he said. “We’re looking to see if that momentum can carry us through.”

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