Eagle girls’ soccer jumps out early to top Vergennes, 5-0
VERGENNES — After Friday’s high school girls’ soccer game between rivals Mount Abraham and host Vergennes, both coaches talked about confidence.
Eagle coach Dustin Corrigan saw five players score in a 5-0 win that was his Division II team’s fourth straight after two close opening losses to tough D-I opponents.
All that had been missing, Corrigan said, was for the Eagles to show offensive consistency, something they showed in outshooting the 2-4 Commodores, 30-3.
“We’ve been working a lot on our finishing, because early on in our schedule against some very good teams we’ve shown we can defend very well and we can possess the ball and create chances,” Corrigan said. “But we picked that up today, scoring five, so that’s really good for this team’s confidence.”
Senior Eagle tri-captain Amy Nault, a midfielder who helped her team dictate play, said “shaking off” early 2-0 and 2-1 losses to Champlain Valley and Mount Mansfield was important for the Eagles.
Now, Nault, said, “I’m very optimistic. If we just stay tenacious and stay wanting the game, we’re going to do well.”
The flip side came from VUHS Co-Coach Dwight Irish, whose team has a couple good wins and was competitive in an overtime loss to undefeated Middlebury. But last week the Commodores also lost to Rice by 4-0 after falling behind early.
Irish said his young team has to learn to keep the faith when opponents take the lead.
“We’ve got to find a way to keep composure. Once a goal is scored on us, we start just chasing,” Irish said. “We’ve got to find a way to really battle. We’re not competing. Mount Abe is good, obviously. They have some nice skill. But we’re letting them dictate the play.”
The Eagles set the tone early. Junior midfielder Juniper Nardiello-Smith fired wide in the opening seconds and they earned back-to-back corner kicks in the second minute. They scored on the second one, when the ball popped out to unmarked junior defender Anna Hauman and she volleyed a high shot home at 37:06.
It didn’t take too long for the Eagles to score again: At 31:39, VUHS failed to clear another corner kick, and Nardiello-Smith one-timed a shot in from the top of the box.
VUHS goalie K.C. Ambrose (10 saves in about 65 minutes, seven in the first half) helped keep the score at 2-0 until the break. Her best save came as she moved right to left to deny a point-blank shot at the post. Sophomore Megan Rooney, junior Sara Stearns and senior Tia Hunt also had good moments on defense for VUHS.
On the VUHS attack, junior Kareena Vorsteveld made a couple strong runs, the best of which Eagle junior Morgan Pratt defused. Eagle junior Jesse McKean also played well in the back.
Junior striker Felicia Armell created the best VUHS chance in the 28th minute, stuffing a clear on the right side of the box and turning it into a bullet on goal. But Eagle keeper Zoe Cassels-Brown dove to her left to snare it. Cassels-Brown also later grabbed an Armell bid for her only saves.
With the Eagle midfield controlling the action, the Eagle pressure paid off quickly in the second half. At 38:09, sophomore striker Ernesta McIntosh one-timed freshman Lydia Pitts’ serve from the right side into the far corner. At 27:09, senior middie Stephanie White’s long-range bomb found the net.
VUHS battled: Ambrose made a kick save on Nardiello-Smith from close range, and sophomore middie Olivia Fournier made a defensive play on a corner kick. But at 1:43, McIntosh crossed from the right side, and junior Stacie Sabourin tucked the ball inside the left post past VUHS keeper Anya Sonwaldt (three saves).
Yes, the Eagles were confident afterward. They will especially do well, Nault said, by playing as hard as they did at VUHS.
“If we just want it way more than them we can come out with a good outcome,” Nault said. “We definitely showed it here today, going hard to every ball, getting there first and putting five in the net.”
Corrigan said his team is beginning to put it together.
“We’ve passed the early test, and we’re feeling pretty confident,” he said.
Meanwhile, Irish said his team should be OK if it can recapture its positive frame of mind.
“We’re not confident right now. And we have to find a way to regain that,” Irish said. “We’re inexperienced, and that’s a piece of it. But we’re not confident. That’s the biggest thing.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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