Mt. Abe soccer girls’ streak continues at MUHS
MIDDLEBURY — The surging Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team pitched its third straight shutout on Tuesday, this time at Middlebury in a 4-0 victory.
The Eagles have won three straight to move over .500 at 6-5-2 and into eighth place in Division II in the Vermont Principals’ Association point standings with one game to go.
That game will be a tough one, at home vs. Rutland on Friday. The Raiders are 5-8, a record that includes 1-0 losses to top Chittenden County teams. Even a tie on Friday will apparently clinch the No. 8 seed for Mount Abe, and it looks like even the half-point they will earn by playing up a division could be enough to nail down a home playoff game early next week.
After the Eagles scored once in a tie vs. Rice and then were shut out by Vergennes, Eagle Coach Dustin Corrigan moved junior central midfielder Addy Harris to striker, and junior attacker Jessica Colbeth returned from injury — both scored on Tuesday. Corrigan said Eagles have also worked hard to improve their attack, with the overall result 10 goals in their past three games.
“We’ve been targeting it at practice a lot, and we’ve moved some people around,” Corrigan said. “A lot of it is we create chances with our work rate and pressuring the defense, but we’re being more mindful what kinds of runs we’re making and creating better chances. Our services are getting better. We’ve got things pointed in the right direction at the right time with one more game and then playoffs.”
On defense, after some tinkering Corrigan settled on a back four of junior Emma Campbell, sophomores Eliana Ginsburg and Savannah Scrodin, and freshman Grace Harvey in front of the goalkeeping tandem of senior Olivia Paine and junior Justice Green.
“We’ve got two very good goalkeepers, and the four in the back have done an excellent job, plus Syd Minnerly and Mae Peterson as holding midfielders do a really good job in front of them, too,” Corrigan said. “We’re as good as anybody there, and that gives us a chance to win every game.”
Coach Wendy Leeds’ Tigers entered the fall with optimism tempered by a lack of experience, but a rash of injuries and the inconsistencies of youth have led to a 3-11 mark despite flashes of promise.
On Tuesday the Tigers honored their three seniors, all multi-year starters, forward/midfielders Ada Anderson and Ailey Bosworth and middie Emily Laframboise, one of the several Tigers sidelined for at least some of the fall.
Laframboise made just a four-minute cameo against the Eagles, middie Harper Sinclair was out with an injury, and junior Gwen Stafford was out of town.
“I do feel like we’re doing a lot of management of broken, partially broken and absent players,” Leeds said. “But that’s part of it.”
The Tigers moved the ball nicely at midfield, notable were Anderson, Bosworth, Merry Kimble, Isabella Pistilli, Annie Lapiner, Alice Ganey, Ivy Doran and Hannah Turner.
“I was really psyched about some of the give-and-goes. We were finding each other more. I felt we were pretty cohesive at times,” Leeds said. “We tried to go a little more attack-minded, and I liked the way it looked.”
But this was the Eagles’ day, especially the second half. The first half was more even; early on Kimble shot wide on a feed from Pistilli. But Mount Abe took a 2-0 lead with a 6-4 edge in shots on goal in the first half. The Eagles took the lead in the eighth minute when Ginsburg stepped into the attack. Chloe Johnston’s strong serve from the right deflected to the far side of the box, and Ginsburg pounded it into the far corner.
Tiger goalie Carly Burger stopped a Colbeth blast, and at the other end Harvey blocked an Anderson bid before Colbeth made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute. Burger (three saves while starting and finishing the game) ranged far off her line to get the ball, but it bounced off a defender to Colbeth, who laced a 30-yard shot on one-hop into the empty net.
Freshman goalie Julia Bartlett (four saves) came in for the Tigers and dove to deny Becca Laurent’s breakaway bid a few minutes later. The Tigers’ best chance before the break came when striker Michelle Skovsgard and Ganey broke in on a two-on-one, but the last pass went astray.
TIGER FRESHMAN HANNAH Turner keeps step for step with Eagle junior Chloe Johnston Tuesday in Middlebury. Mount Abraham won the game, 4-0.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
The Eagles outshot the Tigers in the second half, 13-2. Middie Lucy Guy hit the side net early from close range, and Laurent, Johnston and Harris were constant threats. Tiger defenders Carlisle Brush, Mardi Horne and Rhys Pitner all made good plays, and Bartlett and Burger each made strong stops. The Tigers’ best chance came in the late going, when Paine flagged down junior Isadora Luksch’s hard shot from the top of the box.
Harris made it 3-0 at 22:36, looping a header back inside the right post on a Laurent serve. Three minutes later Juliette Snell completed the scoring. She followed a play that started with a long serve into the box that Harris knocked away from Bartlett toward the right post, and Snell hustled all the way to knock it home.
“Credit to them,” Leeds said. “I wish we played with the same hunger and intensity they showed around the box.”
The Eagles will hope that offensive momentum will carry over into the postseason.
“This has been a really fun group to coach,” Corrigan said. “And we’ll see what we can do come playoff time. But I think if we play like this every game, who knows? I think we can beat everybody out there on any given day.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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