Eagle soccer in D-II final; Tiger field hockey out

BRISTOL/MIDDLEBURY — The Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team will play for its first-ever Division II championship on Saturday after an overtime semifinal win on Wednesday afternoon, but the Middlebury Union field hockey team could not on Wednesday evening upset undefeated No. 1 D-I seed Essex.
The No. 3 Eagles worked overtime to defeat visiting No. 7 Green Mountain Valley, 1-0, for their 11th shutout of the fall. Mount Abe (13-4) will play No. 5 Harwood (12-4-1) for the title on Saturday at 10 a.m. at South Burlington High School. The Harwood and Mount Abe girls’ soccer teams did not face one another this fall.
Two hours later in a D-I field hockey semifinal played a Middlebury College, the No. 4 MUHS team fell to the top-ranked defending champion Hornets, 2-0, ending the Tigers’ season.
Mount Abe controlled most of the home game against 5-3-4 GMVS. The Eagles outshot the Gumbies, 22-7, but had trouble getting high-percentage looks at GMVS goalie Eva Shaw (12 saves, including several gems) against an athletic Gumby defense led by center back Ali Nullmeyer.
In OT, the Gumbies earned some territory, and Eagle goalie Zoe Cassels-Brown (four saves) came off her line several times to beat them to the ball as the Eagles’ hopes of making the program’s first D-II finals appearance since 1997 looked at risk.
But central Eagle defenders Reed Martin and Jesse McKean helped Cassels-Brown shut down the Gumbies, and the Eagles reasserted themselves. They forced one of seven corner kicks, to none for GMVS. Junior middie Ernesta McIntosh, who hit the crossbar in the second half and then watched Shaw deny Stacie Sabourin’s bid on the rebound, struck the corner perfectly.
The ball went right-to-left across the goalmouth, out of Shaw’s reach. No Eagle or Gumby controlled it until it reached junior Morgan Pratt, who had played well first at defense and then at midfield. Off the left post, Pratt left-footed it home and triggered a celebration with her teammates and the Mount Abe students who rushed the field to mob their friends.
Essex improved to 13-0-1 by scoring a goal in each half to subdue the stubborn Tigers, who suffered only their second loss in eight games, both to Essex.
The Tigers had chances in the first half: Sara Kelley shot wide on a pass from Tajah Marsden, and a Kelley feed to Lauren Bartlett near the left post just missed connecting.
MUHS also defended three corners well, while goalie Baily Ryan (11 saves) stopped a Jenna Puleo breakaway and a drive from Hornet all-star Kathleen Young. But with a minute to go before the break Young carried past a defender and set up teammate Grace Murphy at the right post to make it 1-0 at the half.
The Tigers earned two penalty corners early in the second half, and Essex goalie Madison Corkum made her only save of the night on the second, denying Kelley. Two minutes later, Murphy tipped in a blast from Young, and the Tigers were unable to dent an Essex defense that has allowed only three goals all fall.
The Tigers finished at 8-5-2, including a semifinal win over rival South Burlington. Four Tiger seniors played their last field hockey game for MUHS: Ryan, midfielders Harley Downey-Teachout and Emma Snyder-Whyte, and defender Alli White. 

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