Eagle girls topple host Commodores, 3-0
VERGENNES — Two local girls’ soccer teams with postseason hopes met at Vergennes Union High School on Saturday, and one came away happier.
Visiting Mount Abraham controlled play against the host Commodores in a 3-0 victory, with edges of 17-7 in shots and 4-2 in corner kicks that showed the Eagles’ advantage in possession.
The 6-1 Eagles have won six straight after an opening overtime loss to Division II’s first-place team U-32, also 6-1. Mount Abe is in second.
Eagle senior midfielder Mae Peterson said the Eagles have learned to be more consistent since that setback.
“At the beginning of the season, especially when we lost to U-32, we came out really strong in the first half. And then we let down a little in the second half. So our past four games we’ve really shown up in second half,” Peterson said.
Both teams’ coaches saw the Eagles ability to win the battles for the ball as a decisive factor on Saturday.
Mount Abe’s Dustin Corrigan called his team athletic and physically fit.
“We do really try to focus on being first to the ball,” Corrigan said. “They did that, and that gave us a certain edge in the game.”
VUHS Co-Coaches Dwight Irish and Peter Maneen’s team — a D-III finalist a year ago with many returning athletes — has played well and is 4-3-2 after losses last week to Mount Abe and 2018 D-II finalist Rice.
Maneen said the Commodores did not step to the ball as well as the Eagles.
“We didn’t compete for the 50-50 balls as well as we would have liked. We knew coming in they are a very physical and aggressive team and if we didn’t battle and win the 50-50 balls it was going to be a long game for us,” Maneen said.
He and Irish remain confident in the Commodores, and Maneen said they believe a tough regular season prepares them for the D-III postseason.
“If we can keep our heads up and continue to battle through and compete against these teams, that’s going to help us when we get into the tournament,” Maneen said.
The Eagles threatened early, but VUHS senior central defender Sophie Hatch broke up senior midfielder Becca Laurent’s strong run in the fifth minute. A minute later senior striker Addy Harris gave the Eagles the lead.
Senior midfielder Chloe Johnston started the play by sending senior forward Jessica Colbeth into the box. VUHS senior goalie Kate Gosliga (seven saves) came out to block Colbeth’s one-timer near the right post. But the ball bounced to Harris, who sent the rebound into the left side.
The Commodores’ best sequence of the half came at the midway point on a rush down the left side by junior forward Sydney Weber and sophomore forward Felicia Poirier. But the Eagle junior center back Savannah Scrodin and senior right back Emma Campbell did enough to defuse the threat, which ended when Eagle senior goalie Justice Green (two saves) stopped VUHS junior midfield Hannah Kelly’s shot from outside the box.
Soon afterward Scrodin defended through balls from VUHS senior midfielder Emily Rooney and Kelly. Then the ball starting going the other way again. Before the break senior Sidney Minnerly, Peterson and Johnston created threats, and sophomore midfielder Grace Harvey — who played well — missed wide left on a penalty kick.
The second half saw more of the same. Harris hit the post early on a feed from junior defender Ellie Ginsburg. Thirteen minutes in Campbell came up for a corner kick and bodied home a Peterson serve from the left side, and in the final minute Laurent drilled a long-range bomb from the right that found the far corner.
The Commodores had a couple chances. Campbell cleared a Rooney serve seven minutes in, and a blocked Poirier shot forced a corner 18 minutes in. On a corner with seven minutes to go Johnston and Ginsburg headed the ball out of trouble after a Weber serve from the left.
But it was the Eagles’ day, as they consistently worked the flanks and won the ball.
“One of our biggest strategies is getting it to the corners and crossing it in,” Peterson said. “But also we want to control it and dominate in the midfield, and I felt like we were able to do that today a little more.”
The Eagles returned their entire starting lineup from a team that reached the D-II semis, and have blended in newcomers without a noticeable drop off in quality of play.
“We had the addition of really strong players,” Peterson said. “And we really gelled together as a team. We’re super positive. We just work really well. You can see it on the field.”
Corrigan believes the Eagles should at least contend again.
“I think we’ll be right there,” Corrigan said. “We’re certainly one of the best teams in D2.”
The VUHS coaches also believe the Commodores will contend.
“I think we can get there,” Maneen said. “It’s just a work in progress. Each game is an opportunity to get a little better, and that’s what we want to continue to do.”