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Tiger girls’ soccer dominates, but Mill River wins

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School girls’ soccer team couldn’t convert their many chances vs. visiting Mill River on Tuesday, while the Minutemen took advantage of one Tiger defensive lapse.
As a result, Mill River (3-0-1) escaped Fucile Field with a 1-0 victory despite the Tigers’ edge in play and territory, which can be fairly seen in their advantages of 22-8 in shots at goal and 10-4 in shots on goal.
To be sure, the Minutemen defense — led by central defender Melissa Fay and midfielder Annie Hasenhohr — did a good job in not allowing the Tigers time to line up good shots at MRU goalie Kaylin Cottrell (10 saves).
“They were a good team. They gave us a good game,” said MUHS Coach Wendy Leeds. “And they did a good job of capitalizing on their fewer opportunities than we did on our many opportunities.”
Leeds also saw plenty to like. Her defense had not played well vs. Fair Haven the previous Saturday, but showed progress on Tuesday, when seniors Darcy Staats and Kess Moulton started at sweeper and stopper, respectively, and juniors Lauren Turner and Satchel McLaughlin in particular fared well on the flanks.
“They’re getting to know each better, trusting each other a little more,” Leeds said.
The Minutemen did break the Tigers down with a couple long counters down the middle against the pressure, but senior goalie Riley Fenster (three saves) made two big saves on breakaways, denying speedy MRU forward Olivia McPhee both times, once in each half.
Meanwhile, Tiger junior center middies Andi Boe and Helen Anderson, with support from Moulton behind them, constantly won balls, created pressure themselves, and set up runs by sophomore Ada Anderson and Isabel Rosenberg up front. Junior outside midfielder Sierra Barnicle also had several good moments.
   TIGER JUNIOR HELEN Anderson fires a shot past Mill River defender Rylee Nichols during a Middlebury home game Tuesday afternoon.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
“I was really happy with the way we played. There were better stretches of connecting passes and finding each other than we’ve seen yet,” Leeds said.
But an early mistake put the Tigers in a hole. A throw-in from the left side went to McPhee, and she fed middie Rylee Nichols cutting into the near side of the box all alone. Nichols had plenty of time to decide where to shoot and then drill a shot inside the left post in the fifth minute.
A minute later, Fenster denied the first McPhee break, and then the Tiger defense clamped down and the offense went to work. Cottrell stopped senior middie Amelia Ingersoll on a corner kick in the 11th minute, and in the 13th minute made the save of the game, tipping a long Boe drive just high and wide. Anderson and Rosenberg had chances later in the half, before MRU had a couple of corner kicks that Turner broke up.
The Tigers had three good chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Two Tigers couldn’t quite catch up to a Boe serve from the right side early on, and it sailed by the open left half of the net. The Minutemen defense then started blocking shots, one by senior middie Claire Wulfman on a cross from Barnicle and two by Boe from the top of the box.
After McLaughlin broke up a dangerous MRU counterattack in the 11th minute, the Tigers earned a corner kick on which Wulfman saw a defender block her one-timed shot on the goal line. Then Boe struck another corner kick that Anderson missed by inches tapping into an open portion of net. A couple minutes later Boe’s long-range left-footed shot hit the left post and bounced right to Cottrell.
The Minutemen began to assert themselves, and Fenster came out to deny McPhee again, this time after a long Fay free kick. The Tigers had one last chance in the final minute, but Cottrell beat Anderson to a long ball sent into the MRU box.
After the game, MRU Coach Dave Carr had a message for Leeds that she passed onto the Tigers.
“Dave Carr said to me, ‘That was your game. You won that game.’ And I shared that with them, and they smiled,” Leeds said. “I think they felt it, too. It was good soccer. It was a good place to build from.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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