Commodore girls score early, blank tigers

MIDDLEBURY — The Vergennes Union High School girls’ soccer team took advantage of early offensive pressure to earn a 2-0 win at Middlebury on Tuesday in a Division II match-up.
The Commodores got the game-winner in the 13th minute from junior Kenadi Dattilio, and early on also hit the post and crossbar and saw Tiger senior back Megan Myers make a goal-line save on a shot by VUHS junior midfielder Lily Haigis.
The Tiger defense stiffened after the early onslaught, in part because senior Kiera Hoefle entered the lineup to join classmate Rosalie Wright-Lapin at central defense, but Commodore senior midfielder Michaela Bicknell added an insurance goal late in the half.
The result pushed the Commodores to 1-0-1, with the tie coming at undefeated D-I Colchester, a game in which the Commodores rallied from a halftime deficit.
Bicknell, a starter since her freshman year who is back in the lineup after missing 2009 with a knee injury, said the Commodores are optimistic.
“We’re feeling very good. They team dynamic is awesome this year,” Bicknell said.
The Colchester game — which ended at 2-2 after a Dattilio penalty kick and a late goal by freshman Ruby Dombek — gave the Commodores a shot of confidence, she said.
“(We felt) a lot of pride from that game. We were down, 2-0, and at halftime we just pulled it together. We all talked, and we came out as strong as we could,” Bicknell said.
The Tigers’ record dropped to 0-2. Injuries have forced Coach Jen Clark to juggle her lineup — some starters didn’t play, and others were out of position. She chose for the most part to see the glass half-full. For example, although the Commodores launched five shots in the first 15 minutes, their final edge in shots was only 14-2, with only three of those shots in the second half.
“In the second half when we picked up our intensity and played with a little bit more oomph we did much better,” Clark said. “It’s a young group, and in the first home game I think there were some nerves in the first half that they managed to shake a little in the second half.”
Particularly, she believes a defense that on Tuesday also included juniors Hannah Kraus and Ruby Barnard-Myers should be a team strength.
“I think our defense, our defensive shape, how they’re moving and playing together, I’ve actually been really happy with that,” Clark said. “That’s in place, and if we can keep adding, we’ll be OK.”
Still, in the early going the Commodores could not be slowed. In the fourth minute, Dombek stole the ball and broke into the Tiger box, drawing a foul before she could shoot on Tiger goalie Sydney Reigle (four saves, including a second-half beauty). Dattilio took the penalty kick, but hit the crossbar.
A minute later, Reigle and two Commodores collided going after a ball sent into the box, and it popped to Haigis. Haigis shot toward the right side of the goal, but Myers had backed up her goalie and booted it away. Soon afterward, Wright-Lapin blocked a dangerous Dattilio shot.
But nobody could get in front of Dattilio’s high 18-yard shot at 27:38, a blast assisted by Dombek, and VUHS led, 1-0.
A minute later, Dattilio got loose on the 18 again, but this time her shot hit the right post.
The Tigers dug in on defense and finally worked the ball to the other end. They earned a corner kick in the 22nd minute, and freshman Sara Boe struck a ball at goal that the Commodore defense deflected wide.
Kraus and Wright-Lapin denied good VUHS chances, but at 2:24 VUHS made it 2-0 on a pretty play. Haigis served from the right side to Dattilio on the penalty stripe, and she laid the ball back to Bicknell, who drilled a shot into the upper left corner.
Bicknell believes the Commodores have plenty of offensive potential.
“There’s a lot of good passing up front this year,” she said.
The Tigers managed more pressure in the second half, but the VUHS defense of junior stopper Casey Shea, senior flank backs Ashley Brunet and Ali Provost, and junior sweeper Tabby Danyow did not allow anything on junior goalie Hannah Curler except one long-range roller from Boe. Danyow in particular ranged from sideline to sideline to snuff out Tiger advances.
VUHS coach Dwight Irish is encouraged by his defense.
“They’re really working as a unit. I’m hearing a lot of talk, there’s quickness to the ball, and they’re sorting out their marks,” Irish said.
Tough tests loom for VUHS, including Montpelier at home on Thursday and upcoming games with Rice and Milton, but Irish believes his team can hold its own.
“I think the way we played on Friday up at Colchester was a good sign. We got down early, and the girls hung in there … We defended really well against a D-I team,” he said. “The Colchester game made us think we could play against anybody.”
And Clark believes that healthy players will boost her team, which will play at Mount Abe on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and at Rice on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“Hopefully we’ll get a whole team and be able to play soon,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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