VUHS girls’ soccer pulls away from Tigers in the rain

MIDDLEBURY — The Vergennes Union High School girls’ soccer team got a pair of early second-half goals from senior striker Ruby Dombek in a rain-soaked Monday game at Middlebury and held on for a 2-0 win.
Dombek and Tiger sophomore goalie Molly Campbell collided while Dombek poked the second ball home at 33:11, and both stretched out on the wet turf for 15 scary minutes while being treated.
Both were X-rayed afterward, and the news was better for Dombek, according to VUHS co-coaches Dwight Irish and Peter Maneen. They confirmed their leading scorer has a deep bone bruise and could possibly return before the end of the regular season. Campbell, however, is done for the fall with a more serious injury.
Dombek’s scores were the result, at least in part, of a tactical change. Irish said the Commodore coaches moved Dombek into a more forward position and asked her teammates to find her there from long range on a wet day that made short passing difficult.
“In the second half, we threw Ruby up top a little bit,” Irish said. “We were trying to get her to control the middle, but the difference was throwing her up top and to get the girls to play a longer ball on a day like today, where there was no passing to be found.”
Shortly after intermission, Commodore sophomore Sara Stearns sent a long ball through the Tiger back line, and Dombek went in alone on Campbell, chipping the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
“They scored a beautiful goal at the beginning of the second half,” said MUHS coach Wendy Leeds.
Shortly afterward, Commodore senior defender Phoebe Plank sprung Dombek behind the MUHS defense, and Dombek just beat Campbell to the ball before the collision, slipping it home to make it 2-0.
After the long delay, the Tigers carried most of the play, in part, Leeds said, because the conditions improved from the first-half deluge.
“Once the rain let up and there wasn’t so much standing water on the field we were actually able to pass the ball to each other,” Leeds said. “The whole first half … I just told them to chip and chase. You couldn’t move the ball with water on the field the way it was.”
The Tiger midfielders — notably sophomore Kelsey Smith and junior Katie Holmes in the middle — began to set up runs by senior forward Sara Boe in the middle and several players down the right side: senior Gabrielle Ingenthron, junior Katherine Townsend and sophomore Julia Vorsteveld.
Senior defender Sophia Abdul-Sater struck some dangerous free kicks, and the Tigers also threatened on three corner kicks taken by sophomore back Claire Armstrong.
But VUHS was equal to the challenge. Junior goalie K.C. Armstrong (eight saves) stopped two long-range Boe shots and came out to beat senior Emily Robinson to a through ball, and sophomore Julia Johnson made a defensive save in a crowd after a corner kick.
Senior Keyannah Smith, sophomores Kareena Vorsteveld and Felicia Armell and freshman Charlotte Haigis also made key defensive plays for Vergennes, and in the late going Middlebury’s Townsend missed just wide right on a Robinson serve from the left side.
At the other end, freshman Riley Fenster came on in goal for Campbell and was credited with three stops, one on senior Samara Sausville. Campbell made five saves before leaving the game injured.
Irish said the Commodores are still experimenting with their midfield lineup, but are happy with their defenders and forwards, especially if Dombek can return. The win also followed a 4-0 home loss to Rice on Friday, and he was happy with the way the Commodores rebounded from that setback.
“We knew this might be a winnable game, but we still had to come out and give a good effort,” Irish said.
Leeds said the Tigers have been playing better in a new formation with four defenders and five midfielders, at least when they can run, not wade. 
“We weren’t really able to put anything together,” she said. “It was unfortunate. I’ve been happy with this new formation that we’re playing, and they’re finding each other and connecting really well. And today we really didn’t get a chance to put that into action.”
Once the Tigers break through and score a couple goals, Leeds believe their confidence will grow even more.
“That’s what we need,” she said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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