Eagle girls’ soccer wins quarter-final in double overtime
BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham girls’ soccer team started the season with five straight losses.
Now the No. 11 seed Eagles are going to the Division II semifinals on Tuesday against No. 2 Woodstock.
The immediate reason the 7-8-1 Eagles will make that trip is junior forward Maia Jensen’s double-overtime game-winner in a Friday quarterfinal against visiting No. 14 Milton, which gave the Eagles a 2-1 victory over another team enjoying a late-season surge.
Jensen’s goal game came 49 seconds before the end of the second extra 20-minute session, with a penalty-kick shootout looming large. Sophomore Piper Guillmette set up the score. Guillmette controlled the ball while moving from left to right across the top of the Milton box and fed Jensen, cutting in from the right.
Jensen took a couple of touches forward before drilling a sharp-angled 15-yard yard shot low into the far corner and triggering an Eagle celebration.
The larger story of how the Eagles reached the semifinals is how they handled an 0-5 start to the season. All those setbacks came to D-I teams, and Coach Dustin Corrigan said the Eagles did not get discouraged. Rather, he believed they simply treated them as learning experiences and kept plugging.
Friday’s win means the Eagles are 7-3-1 since the tough start, and 5-0-1 in their past six games.
“I am so proud of this year’s group,” Corrigan said. “They have so much grit. It’s not always how we get it done, but they just grind it out. They outwork opponents. They stick together.”
And they had to do all that on Friday in a game of shifting momentum. Milton came out hard, but the Eagles began to assert themselves after the first 10 minutes wore on. Their pressure paid off in the 17th minute.
Senior Illia Dennison made a strong run down the middle and was fouled as she approached the box. She took the ensuing free kick from 28 yards out and drilled it high into the net over the wall to make it 1-0. Milton goalie Grace Williams, who made five saves, had no chance.
The Eagles continued to carry play for most of the first half, but Milton (4-10-2) dominated long stretches of the second half, including the final 15 minutes, forcing Eagle goalie Jo Toy to make most of her seven saves in the period. But Toy couldn’t stop Anna Grasso’s shot with seven minutes to go, and it was on to overtime.
In the extra sessions the Eagles regained their footing and had the edge, but neither team had a golden chance until Jensen sealed the deal.
“Milton definitely came to play,” Corrigan said. “There were times when we were having the run of play. There were times when we were having the run of play. It certainly wasn’t easy.”
Friday’s win followed the Eagles’ first-round 2-0 win at No. 5 Stratton on Wednesday. Dennison scored both goals in that game, one on a similar free kick and one with an assist from defender Annie Dufault. Toy made five saves, as did goalie Pip Greenberg for Stratton (10-4).
Corrigan said the Eagles will be confident no matter who they face in their semifinal.
“Our defense is strong. We’re confident in that, and our goalkeeper is outstanding … And we’re starting to score some goals now, as well,” Corrigan said. “We’re starting to believe maybe we can do it.”
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