Girls’ soccer: Rice downs Commodore 4-0

VERGENNES — On Friday, the Vergennes Union High School girls’ soccer team hosted Division I Rice, which came in on a four-game winning streak that included victories over two of the top squads in D-II, Milton and Mount Abraham.
The 6-3-1 Green Knights looked like a team on a roll, carrying play and outshooting the 4-5 Commodores, 18-4, and defeating them, 4-0.
Even though VUHS had upset Rice earlier in the season, 1-0, it had taken a 20-plus save effort by junior goalie K.C. Ambrose. VUHS co-coach Dwight Irish said expectations were modest against a Green Knight team that has found its footing since.
“We knew this was going to be hard. If we came away with something we were going to be happy,” Irish said.
Because the Commodores had played well in winning, 2-0, at Green Mountain Valley earlier in the week, Irish was not too unhappy on Friday.
“They’ve knocked off Mount Abe. They’ve knocked off Milton. They played well. That’s the bottom line, really,” Irish said. “It’s hard to say whether we did or didn’t play (well).”
Irish did acknowledge the Commodores found it difficult to move the ball up the field against Rice.
“We started playing too quick. I don’t know if frantic is the right word, but they were going to the ball hard, so we felt we had to do everything too quick. Consequently, the passes didn’t link,” Irish said.
The VUHS defense did not play as well as it can, either. Rice took the lead in the 17th minute when midfielder Jill Rathke sent in Riley Mitiguy all alone on Ambrose, and Mitiguy had plenty of time to pick the lower right corner.
Four minutes later, a defender failed to send the ball back to Ambrose for what could have been an easy clear. Instead, a Rice forward broke in alone again on Ambrose, who wisely came out to try to disrupt the play, but tripped the forward. Alex Pochop buried the penalty kick that followed to make it 2-0.
In the 32nd minute, Rathke sent Avery Kidd into the right side of the box. This time the defense applied good pressure, but Kidd’s hard shot bounced off the bottom of the right post and in.
VUHS worked into shooting position twice in the half. In the 13th minute, senior striker Ruby Dombek and freshman Shea Pouliot, making her varsity debut, worked the ball to the top of the box for junior midfielder Haley Paquette, but a Rice defender blocked Paquette’s shot.
In the final minute Dombek forced a corner kick after a through ball from freshman defender Megan Rooney, and then Dombek shot high when the ball bounced her way on the corner kick.
Rice got its final goal on a second-half penalty kick. (Ambrose, who was credited with 11 saves and came off her line to break up several plays, could hardly be blamed for any of the scores.) The kick was awarded on an ill-advised pushing foul away from the goal, and Pochop converted in the 17th minute.
In the late going, VUHS mustered some pressure. Freshman Charlotte Haigis set up one Dombek run; a Pouliot serve from the left side left the Rice defense scrambling to block bids by Dombek and Paquette; and Pouliot and Dombek forced a corner kick in the 33rd minute. Rice goalie Macie Sicard was credited with two saves.
Defensively for VUHS, seniors Samara Sausville, Phoebe Plank and Keyannah Smith, junior Tia Hunt; Rooney; and sophomores Kareena Vorsteveld, Julia Johnson, Felicia Armell and Sara Stearns all made some solid plays.
And because of the good result at GMVS, Irish remained optimistic.
“That was very positive. It was … one of the better games overall,” Irish said. “Our midfield played great that day, and we got early goals. We just played well the whole time.”
The key moving forward, he said, will be getting more consistent play out of an inexperienced midfield.
“Our backs are getting a little more sorted out, and anytime you have Ruby and (sophomore) Tea (Keifer), that’s not a bad duo up front,” Irish said. “We’re still searching to get our play together a little more in the midfield. I think we’ll be OK.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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