MUHS girls’ soccer tips VUHS girls in double overtime

VERGENNES — The rain came down steadily but the momentum swung dramatically in Monday’s girls’ soccer game at Vergennes Union High School.
The decisive swing favored visiting Middlebury. The Division I Tigers rallied from a late two-goal deficit to tie the game, but had to dodge bullets in the first overtime before senior center midfielder Helen Anderson’s hard 30-yard shot bounced in off the right post with 1:38 to go in double overtime to give MUHS the 4-3 win.
After more than 98 minutes of soccer Anderson said she was operating on instinct.
“I don’t really think when I play soccer. I just shot,” she said, adding, “I’m still in shock. I thought it was going wide and not in. But I’ll take it.”
Both teams were playing without all-star center midfielders. Tiger Andi Boe went down on Sept. 19 with a knee injury that will cost her all three of her senior sports. Commodore sophomore Emily Rooney hurt her knee on Saturday, and she, her coaches and teammates do not yet know yet know how badly.
Anderson, who had played multiple sports with Boe since kindergarten, said the Tigers, who have won three straight to improve to 7-3, are beginning to adjust to the loss of their friend and key teammate.
“We don’t have a presence in the middle. For me it was huge. I don’t have a wingman. Everybody feels that way. It’s just a huge gap,” she said. “I think we figured out that one person can’t fill that. So we can’t just stick another midfielder out there and have it be Andi Boe. It’s going to have to be everybody coming together and doing that. We’re figuring out we have to play together more as a unit.”
MUHS Coach Wendy Leeds said she is proud of her team’s response.
“I give all of them a lot of credit for figuring out how to turn that around and dig out of that hard place,” Leeds said.
Meanwhile the Commodores — who lost junior leading scorer Ciara McClay to a preseason hip issue — face uncertainty over Rooney’s status, and on Monday Co-Coach Peter Maneen noted they also faced the Tigers with no chance for he and Co-Coach Dwight Irish to coordinate a new lineup.
“(We’re happy) with the effort they put in today bouncing back from Saturday’s rough one, missing some players without having the opportunity to have a practice to sort some things out,” Maneen said. “To our girls’ credit I thought they battled hard in there and gave themselves the opportunity to win the game.”
It didn’t look like the Commodores were unprepared as they took a 2-0 first-half lead as forwards Kaitlyn Brace and Morgan Lynk consistently caused problems for the Tiger back line. Tiger goalie Carly Burger (six saves) stopped Brace early on a feed from middie Hannah Kelly, and Lynk fired just wide on a breakaway after Brace sent her in from midfield.
Brace made it 1-0 in the 11th minute. Lynk, on the left, served a low ball across the goalmouth that Brace slid to tap home inside the left post.
Then VUHS middie Sydney Weber made it 2-0 in the 17th minute by pounding a 30-yard direct kick into the upper right corner, giving Burger no chance to retreat and knock it aside.
Both goalies came up big late in the half. Burger dove to deflect an 18-yard Weber bid off the left post, and VUHS goalie Anya Sonwaldt (16 saves) jumped up to her left to tip an 18-yard Ailey Bosworth bullet over the crossbar.  
For the most part the Commodore backs — Emma Bryant and Emma Husk in the middle and Hannah Paquette and Rayven Perkins on the flanks — pressured the Tiger shooters. The first-half shots finished at 9-9, but VUHS had the better chances.
In the second half Tigers piled up a 17-1 edge in shots. Anderson said the rainy surface made the Tigers’ preferred possession game a challenge, and that they began to hit longer, more dangerous balls as the game wore on.
“With the rain we had to adapt,” she said.
Tiger chances came from Anderson, Rosenberg, Meredith Kimble, Laframboise and Ada Anderson, while Tiger defenders Alexa Lapiner, Sierra Barnicle, Satchel McLaughlin and Christina Wiles stepped up to keep the ball in the VUHS end. McLaughlin also broke up a couple of Brace counterattacks.
In the 16th minute Kimble and Rosenberg found space near the penalty stripe. Kimble couldn’t get solid contact on a shot, but it bounced to the right to Rosenberg, who hit the lower left corner.
The Commodores struck next with their only shot of the half. Burger ranged out to clear a ball, but it bounced to Weber, who raced down the right side to get the angle at the empty net before firing the ball home to make it 3-1 at 12:17.
The Tigers fought back. Laframboise took a feed from Ada Anderson 20 yards out from the right post, and her blast nicked the inside of the upright on the way in at 7:32.
At 4:57 Wiles sent Anderson on a right-to-left run into the box, and Anderson left-footed the ball back into the left corner to make it 3-3.
Then the Commodores came alive in the overtime. Three times they sent Lynk on long runs into the right side of the box. First, Helen Anderson caught her from behind and Lynk went down, but no whistle was blown. Anderson broke up another Lynk bid, but the third time Lynk jetted past the defense and had a clean look on goal, only to see Burger grab her 10-yard bid.
The Tigers controlled the second OT, and Helen Anderson finally completed their rally after what Leeds agreed was a slow start.
“None of us were satisfied with how we looked in the first half, and ultimately there’s only so much I can do over here,” Leeds said. “They decided they were going to take it to the next level.” 
Maneen said he thinks the D-III Commodores might have learned something about themselves on Monday.
“We came out strong. Middlebury definitely responded and had the better of the play in the second half, had us on our heels,” he said. “So to see the girls regroup and come out and really give an honest effort and get back to attacking and trying to win the game instead of trying not to lose the game, that’s the mentality that we want to see that will serve us well going forward.”

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