Tiger girls’ soccer ousts U-32 from playoffs

JUNIOR FORWARD CADY Pitner goes on the attack during the Tigers’ 1-0 victory over U-32 on Thursday in a first-round Division II playoff game. Pitner scored the game-winner with an assist from Hannah Turner. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY — The No. 8 Middlebury Union girls’ soccer team edged visiting No. 9 U-32, 1-0, in a first-round Division II playoff game on Thursday afternoon.

The Tigers, back at full-strength after dropping two games the week before while shorthanded due to COVID contact-tracing, improved to 8-6-1. U-32, the defending D-II champion, finished its season at 6-7-2.

The Tigers are set to visit top-seeded Harwood (13-1-1) in a Saturday quarterfinal at 3 p.m. However, a poor forecast could place scheduling of that game in jeopardy.

On Thursday, the Raiders carried play in the early going, but the Tigers slowly asserted themselves and scored 17 minutes into the second half.

Cady Pitner put MUHS on the board. Hannah Turner sent Pitner in alone on Raider goalie Evie Moore, who came out to cut down the angle. But Pitner found the lower right corner with a left-footed shot.

MUHS Coach Reeves Livesay acknowledged the team overall took some time to hit its stride, but said defense was a constant throughout.

“I think the whole game we defended hard and defended well. Certainly at the beginning of the game it took us a little while to settle in,” Livesay said. “But once we did I think we did a nice job of finding the feet of our forwards, which was very helpful in allowing us to play out of the back and go forward.”

MUHS SENIOR HANNAH Turner strikes a shot at goal during the Tigers’ first-round Division II playoff win over visiting U-32 on Tuesday. Turner set up Cady Pitner’s second-half game-winner. Independent photo/Steve James

While the Tigers only cashed in on one chance, Livesay said they created several.

“We had a number of good opportunities. That was certainly the best opportunity we had. I thought as the game went on we generated a couple stronger opportunities,” he said.

Livesay praised his defense for not allowing high-percentage looks on goalie Julia Bartlett. He said the Tigers used an alignment with three defenders in the middle, seniors Ivy Doran and Zoe Noble and freshman Elsa Burrows, and those three in particular did well in shutting down the Raiders. Bartlett finished with seven saves, as did the Raiders’ Moore.

MUHS FRESHMAN FORWARD Lily Dame touches the ball past a U-32 defender during the Tigers’ 1-0 first-round Division II playoff win on Thursday. Tiger defender Amelia Quesnel is in the background.
Independent photo/Steve James

“We did a real good job of limiting their chances. They like to get shots from outside, and we only allowed one really dangerous shot from that space, 20 to 25 yards out, where they score a lot of their goals,” he said.

“Ivy was super solid in the back line, as she always is. It was nice to have Zoe back there with her, and I think they along with Elsa really did a great job.”

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