Otter Valley girls’ soccer passes Terriers

BRANDON — Thanks to a dominant offense that controlled the ball for much of the game, the Otter Valley Union High School girls’ soccer team trounced visiting Bellows Falls on Friday evening, 7-1, to improve to 2-3 on the season and snap a two-game skid.
“I think everyone is breathing a sigh of relief that we’re moving forward,” OV coach Rick Hedding said after the game.
The Otters, who will be trying to avenge an earlier setback when they host Twin Valley on Tuesday, set the pace for the match early in the game, scoring their first goal eight minutes into the first half when senior Abbie Pinkowski launched a shot into the top of the Terriers’ goal from the penalty kick mark.
She was followed just four minutes later with a close range-range shot from Otter captain Olivia Drew. The Terriers had hardly recovered when Otter Valley scored again. This time, Drew served up a quick through-pass to fellow captain Julia Lee for a close-range goal, extending the Otters’ lead to 3-0.  
The Terriers struggled to maintain possession while on the offensive and were often dispossessed at midfield by the Otter  defense, who distributed the ball to midfielders Pinkowski and Drew. Lee scored her second goal of the game off a pass from Pinkowski that came late in the first half, lofting a chip shot just over the fingertips of the Terrier keeper.  
The Otters closed out the first half with a fifth goal scored with just two seconds remaining. When a loose ball ricocheted off the Terriers defense, Pinkowski pounced, putting a tidy shot past Terrier keeper Madison Pencek into the lower corner.  
The Otters scored twice in the opening minutes of the second half. Lee used a through-ball from Leah Pinkowski to score from the top of the penalty box. A lucky bounce a minute later from the foot of Julia Lee earned her a hat trick for the game. 
The Terriers scored their only goal off of a penalty kick ten minutes into the second half. Terrier midfielder Zoe Schemm used a light toe touch to move the ball into play, catching Otter keeper Sophie Walker alone in the net with no defenders. Two more offensive players joined Schemm and scored easily with the three-on-one combination, poked in by midfielder Jessica Roberts.
Later into the second half the Terriers’ offense succeeded in making several fast passes through the Otters’ defense at midfield, resulting in scrambles by the Otter defense to prevent breakaways. But they prevented the Terriers from attempting shots on goal, although a few shots sailed wide of Walker.
Coach Hedding credited the Otters’ victory to their passing game.
“We’ve been working more on distributing the ball so it’s not just going to one player,” he said. “Their passing went really well this evening. This field is 80-yards wide, so they’ve learned to use it to create options when on the offensive.”   
“We really wanted to win,” Drew said following the game. “Our passes really started to connect and our transitions from defense to midfield really came together.” 

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