Otter Valley girls’ soccer blanks Jacks, 4-0

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School girls’ soccer team on Friday shrugged off both its injury bug and visiting Windsor to defeat the Jacks, 4-0.
The win moved the Otters back to within a game of .500 at 4-5 heading into a Monday home contest vs. Long Trail, while Windsor dropped to 1-7.
Coach Rick Hedding praised his defense — seniors Jillian Flanders and Molly McGee in the middle and freshmen Sophie Walker and Lauryl Blanchard on the flanks — for allowing only six mostly harmless shots at junior goalie Gabby Poalino.
“Our fullbacks are really squared away. They hold the line high,” Hedding said. “They did a very nice job.”
At the other end the Otters, after a bit of a slow start, settled in and carved up the Windsor back line. Hedding, with only one sub due to injuries, rotated players through the midfield and front line, and seniors Olivia Drew (two goals, assist) and Abbie Pinkowski, junior Colby Reynolds, sophomore Julia Lee (goal), and freshmen Julia Eastman (goal), Mary Kingsley and Phoebe Elliot all did good work.
“We had nice ball movement,” Hedding said. “I would have liked to see them play a little wider sometimes, but they had some really good through balls and made some opportunities.”
The best Windsor chance and the only OV defensive lapse came in the second minute, when Windsor’s Annie Soho cut in and one-timed a cross from the right side high from point-blank range.
The Otters took over from there and scored in the 14th minute. Walker stepped up from left back and lofted a ball into the Windsor box that the defense misplayed. Lee pounced, touched the ball past a defender and buried it into the upper right corner.
Drew made it 2-0 three minutes later, beating two defenders on a 40-yard solo run before left-footing the ball into the upper right corner again. With six minutes left in the half, Drew served from the right side, and Eastman, near the penalty stripe, one-timed the ball with her left foot inside the left post.
The Windsor defense actually limited the shots in the first half despite OV’s possession, but the Otters scored on three of five attempts. In the second half, the Otters launched 15 shots, finishing with a 20-6 edge in shots at goal. Drew tacked on the final score with 12 minutes to go, dribbling from left to right across the top of the box and hitting a low shot back inside the left post.
Poalino’s three saves were not difficult, but she came off her line alertly twice to beat Jack forwards to balls to snuff out threats. Windsor goalie Kaycee Herschel stopped 11 shots, including some nice second-half saves.
Hedding expects his walking wounded to begin returning this week and to provide the Otters more depth and consistency for a stretch run, and possibly the program’s second straight — and second ever — home playoff date.
At the very least he believes the Otters will finish strong.
“I actually anticipate us doing that. We’re getting healthy,” Hedding said. “The team chemistry is fantastic.”

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