Mount Abe outlasts Vergennes in girls’ soccer
BRISTOL — In a hard-fought game on Saturday, the host Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team in overtime finally translated their territorial advantage over Vergennes into a 1-0 victory.
The Eagles outshot VUHS, 28-9 (10-1 in the first half and 4-0 in overtime), but the Commodores created chances, especially late in the game.
Ultimately, Coach Dustin Corrigan’s decision to move junior Lydia Pitts from defense to striker in overtime proved to be the difference.
VUHS goalie Anya Sonwaldt (13 saves) had no chance at Pitts’ game-winner at 3:45. Pitts took a feed from junior middie Casey Ober at the top of the box, touched the ball to her right, and then laced back it into the upper left-hand corner.
A year ago, Pitts scored 11 times, but when the Eagles struggled this year Corrigan moved both Pitts and senior center middie Nesta McIntosh to outside defense, with juniors Emma LaRose and Jenna McArdle at sweeper and stopper, respectively, and senior Genysis Berube (three saves vs. VUHS) remaining in goal. Since the switch, the 4-6 Eagles have gone 3-2 and allowed only four goals.
But on Saturday, with junior striker Abby Mansfield slowed by a nagging injury and the Eagles holding most of the territory, Corrigan decided to move Pitts back into the attack — earlier he had already returned McIntosh to center mid.
“I was very proud our backfield, without Lydia or Nesta, held it together,” he said. “When Lydia’s up top, she’s very dangerous.”
Pitts had happily answered the call to play in the back, but smiled when asked if she enjoyed the chance to score again.
“It’s definitely fun to get back into the attack. Defense is definitely fun, but it’s a little bit scary at times,” Pitts said. “It’s nice to go back to what I’m used to. It’s good to step out of my comfort zone, but I like it up top.”
But she will be content to return to the back line.
“Our team is great in the way that we all work together and we want to be better as a whole,” said Pitts. “So we each make individual sacrifices, whether it’s in the positions we play, or the balls we get, to make the team better.”
VUHS Co-Coach Peter Maneen credited Mount Abe for bottling up his team in the first half, and praised his defense — led by senior sweeper Megan Rooney, junior Emma Husk and sophomore Hannah Paquette as well as Sonwaldt — for keeping the Eagles at bay.
“We’re definitely happy with the effort, particularly in the second half. The first half was a scramble,” said Maneen, whose team dipped to 4-5-1. “Give credit to our defense for being gritty and hard-nosed.”
Despite the first-half shots the Eagles launched, great chances were rare. Sonwaldt intervened to break up a couple threats and had just one tricky save, on a long wind-aided shot from senior Addy Crosthwait that she retreated to grab. Junior Mae Peterson was a dangerous presence for Mount Abe in the half.
The action picked up in the second half. Early on, Rooney cleared a ball from the VUHS goalmouth, and in the sixth minute, Eagle junior Emma Carter shot from the penalty stripe, but right at Sonwaldt. Sonwaldt denied Carter again 10 minutes later near the right post.
Then the Commodores began to press. Senior Caroline Johnston — who along with freshman Emily Rooney and senior Annika Vorsteveld made an impact for VUHS at midfield in the second half — had her direct kick blocked out of bounds in the 26th minute for a corner kick, which Carter came back to clear.
The Eagles countered with Crosthwait header that went wide of a net that Sonwaldt had vacated in an attempt to break up the threat, and at the other end junior Lexi Brace hit the right post on a feed from sophomore Ciara McClay. Berube denied McClay from the top of the box in the 32nd minute, and with two minutes left she snatched a McClay header set up by Brace.
The Eagles threatened on a late corner kick, one of their seven to two for VUHS, but it was on to overtime. Ober headed a McIntosh direct kick high, but made up for the miss by setting up Pitts’ game-winner.
Corrigan was pleased with his team’s play.
“I would have liked to score some more goals today and not go to overtime, but the important thing for us is we got the result,” Corrigan said. “Things seem to be moving in the right direction as we move toward playoffs.”
Maneen said the Commodores just need to play a more complete game to reach their potential.
“We’ve got to show up, and we’ve got to play for 80 minutes,” he said. “When we do that, we’re a tough team to beat.”