Eagle girls’ soccer breaks out on offense vs. Tigers

MIDDLEBURY — A positive Friday for the Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team in Middlebury, an offensive breakout in a 6-2 victory, was a tough day for the MUHS girls, and not mainly because of the loss.
Earlier that day Coach Wendy Leeds and the Tigers learned what they already suspected: The knee injury that well-liked senior teammate Andi Boe suffered in their previous game vs. Rice will sideline the three-sport all-star not just this fall, but for the hockey and lacrosse seasons as well.
There were plenty of tears and hugs for Boe, many of them from multi-sport teammates, on what Leeds described as an emotional day.
“It was hard. It’s been hard all week. We got the official news today, but I think we knew we were going to have to figure out how to play without her for at least a certain amount of time. And it has definitely set us back on our heels a bit, for sure,” Leeds said. “They came out and really just did the only thing they could do, which is step on the field and so the best they could.”
And the Tigers had good moments on the field. They moved the ball well at times, especially through the midfield, where senior Helen Anderson keyed play, and senior striker Isabel Rosenberg scored twice.
But the game belonged to Coach Dustin Corrigan’s Eagles, who scored five second-half goals to snap a halftime tie and earn the win. They outshot the Tigers, 27-13, and got three goals from senior striker Emma Carter and one each from senior striker Lydia Pitts and sophomore midfielders Becca Laurent and Mae Peterson.
And they improved to 4-3 by bouncing back from what Corrigan called a subpar performance in a home loss to Spaulding.  
“We’re very happy about it. We’re on the other side of .500,” Corrigan said. “It feels a little better being 4-3 than 3-4, for sure.”
Corrigan was pleased with their offensive balance, including threats created by seniors Abby Mansfield, a striker rounding into form after an injury, and midfielders Casey Ober and Delana Tow.
“We had six goals with several different goal scorers,” he said.  “A lot of players have shown they can score.”
Corrigan also liked the work center middies Ober and Peterson controlling the Tigers’ short-passing game.
“The work rate was tremendous. I thought that was the difference early in the match. We knew Middlebury was going to be pretty technical in the middle and we would have to work hard to close space,” he said.  
And the Eagle backline — starting were senior Emma LaRose at sweeper, McArdle at stopper, and senior Renee Bolduc and sophomore Emma Campbell on the flanks — limited MUHS from getting too many good looks at junior goalie Olivia Paine (four saves).
“We looked more good than bad today,” Corrigan said.
The Eagles took a lead in the game’s third minute. Laurent sent a ball from the left side to Carter, about 20 yards out from the left post. Her high turnaround shot found the upper right corner and gave starting senior goal Abby Gleason (six saves) no chance.
The Eagles pressed for the first 20 minutes — Carter, Pitts and Ober all created chances, and Gleason twice alertly came out to break up plays created by Mansfield and senior Carlotta Tow.
Then Tigers were starting to assert themselves. Anderson and junior middies Ada Anderson, Emily Laframboise and Ailey Bosworth began to link up, and Eagle defenders Ruby Ball and LaRose blocked shots by Helen Anderson, Rosenberg and sophomore Isadora Luksch.
The Tigers equalized at 13:36. Senior stopper Sierra Barnicle took a free kick from the left side and served to the penalty stripe. Rosenberg swooped in and left-footed the ball home out of midair in an excellent effort.
The Eagles began to take the momentum back before the half. Carter just missed twice, once from Ober, and Peterson firing high from 20 yards.
The Eagles took advantage of the wind at their back in the second half. Three minutes in Carter curled in a 40-yard bomb from the left sideline. At 28:19 Carter made it 3-1 when Gleason couldn’t handle the tricky bounce on another long-range shot. Two minutes later Peterson’s looped in a shot from five yards out side the box; Gleason had no chance this time.
Five minutes later, Rosenberg struck again. Paine got her hands on Anderson’s 22-yard drive, knocking it off the crossbar, but Rosenberg buried the rebound into the lower left corner with a left-footed one-timer.
The Eagles made it 5-2 at 19:01, when Laurent tucked in a ball flicked to her by McArdle on a corner kick. Sophomore Carly Burger (two saves) finished up in the Tiger goal from there, allowing a Pitts breakaway strike with 2:24 to play.
Leeds said the Tigers played wide well on offense, and that backs Barnicle, Gwen Stafford, Christina Wiles and Satchel McLaughlin made good decisions with the ball and for the most part protected the Tiger box.
But mostly it was an unhappy day for the Tigers and their injured teammate.
“It took a lot of courage for them to do anything, much less come out and play as hard as they did,” Leeds said.
For the Eagles, the win over a Division I opponent on the road not only put them over .500, but also could help them earn better playoff position.
“If we can compile enough wins to get a home playoff game and be home through the quarters as well, it would be awesome,” Corrigan said. 

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