BARRE TOWN — Spaulding neutralized a few of Mount Abraham’s senior stars on Wednesday but couldn’t contain all 10 of them.
The Crimson Tide held the Eagles scoreless for 59 minutes before goals from Mae Peterson, Sydney Minnerly and Jessica Colbeth triggered a 3-0 girls soccer victory. Classmate Chloe Johnston notched an assist as Mount Abraham’s deep senior class pestered Spaulding for much of the match.
“We have Becca Laurent and Chloe Johnston on our wings and they’re fast players,” Peterson said. “And what we try do is get it to them, they take it down the line and send those balls in. And we have strong forwards like Lucy Guy and Addy Harris and Jess Colbeth that can put that ball in.”
Juliette Snell, Emma Campbell and Justice Green round out the list of 12th-graders on Mount Abraham’s roster. It’s a talented class that has spread the wealth offensively, resulting in 43 goals this season. The Eagles entered the week riding an eight-game winning steak before falling to Rutland, 3-2, on Monday.
“We didn’t score as easily in that game, so this was us regrouping from that,” Peterson said. “We had to get back in our groove. We had a lot of chances and they finally came. We just had to keep trying, and they eventually went in.”
Goalies Justice Green (one save) and Sophia Verman (two saves) joined forces in the Eagles’ sixth shutout of the season. Fullback Savannah Scrodin led Mount Abraham’s back line and Laurent cheated a bit defensively to shadow Tide striker Lauren Allen.
“We’re three in the back with a 3-5-2, so our winger played a lot more tucked today,” Eagles coach Dustin Corrigan said. “Any attack Spaulding got down the right side, we were very concerned about Lauren getting behind us at the back post. Because if they beat one of our backs and everybody has to shift, there’s nobody to mark her. So we kept our weak-side midfielder pinched. ...and it took away a little bit of Becca’s attack. She plays a wing midfielder, but she’s often more like a forward. Our wings like to make penetrating runs and she’s used to trying to run in behind the defense and not so used to having to play tucked. What we told Becca was, ‘If they’re attacking down the other side, you’ve got to get back to our back line and pinch in.’ And she did a good job with that. There were times when we gambled a little bit, but that adjustment worked pretty well.”
Harris tested LaCroix with a header in the 8th minute and Laurent fired a shot wide of the right post in the 12th minute. Spaulding’s Madeline Benoit shut down Harris on the right side in the 16th minute and then the Tide fired off their first shot during a scramble inside the penalty area in the 19th minute. Grace Paterson blocked a high-powered shot by Guy in the 27th minute and Tide teammates Madeline Benoit, Camryn Fewer, Autavia Browman and Cassie Graves added timely tackles.
In the 30th minute Browman and Benoit tracked back to cover Harris on a breakaway, and LaCroix raced toward the top of the 18-yard line to make a high-impact clearance. Three minutes later Allen threatened to spark a counterattack at the opposite end before Harvey and Campbell disrupted the breakaway. Laurent was whistled for offside violations twice late in the first half and the scoreless Eagles entered halftime in unfamiliar territory.
“They were pretty compact defensively and in the midfield, so we didn’t have a lot of time there,” Peterson said “They were putting really high pressure on us, so we had to get close to get those opportunities on goal. In the second half we just had to keep pushing and find that drive. We’ve been doing some adjusting with our wide mids pushing up and holding back. And I think we found the balance between the midfield helping defensively but also being there to finish.”
Tide goalie Lily LaCroix made back-to-back diving saves during the 47th minute to keep things even. In the 53rd minute Spaulding was awarded a 25-yard free kick but the Eagles caught a break when a rising shot drifted over the crossbar. A few minutes later Harvey one-timed a 40-yard shot wide of the upper-right corner.
Johnston sep up Peterson in the 59th minute after dribbling up the right flank. A Tide defender redirected Johnson’s line-drive cross, but Peterson cleaned up the mud-caked rebound with a one-time shot from inside the 6-yard box.
“I saw the ball and I was close enough,” Peterson said. “I just ran and kept my eye on the ball. And I tumbled and rolled after it.”
Minnerly doubled the lead on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. Colbeth capped the scoring in the 73rd minute after winning a 50-50 ball in the air and using her second touch to fire a shot inside the left post.
“We moved some people around and we tried to not press the panic because we knew there was still a lot of time in the game,” Corrigan said. “And we were getting in the final third a lot — we just were trying to be a little too direct. We were playing a lot of straight-ahead, flighted balls that were going right to the keeper — even when their back line was only 25 yards out. So we tried to be a little more purposeful finding some seams between the backs and in the final third. We tried to play tighter through passes or right into the forwards’ feet to run at them — or try and turn and shoot, rather than everything over the top. And our players adjusted pretty well and did that much better in the second half.”
LaCroix (11 saves) was a game-changer in goal for the Tide. She took a leg to the face in the 38th minute while breaking up a scoring bid by Harris at the edge of the 6-yard box. In the 70th minute Harris knocked LaCroix to the ground on a 50-50 ball at the top of the penalty area, resulting in a yellow card.
“After that first hit in the first half, I cannot believe Lily even got up — she got hit so hard,” Spaulding coach Rob Moran said. “And then in the second half, to come back out on (Harris) again and to take another hit, and just get up and keep playing. She’s a freshman and she played much older today. She had a great game.”
The Tide (3-8) will travel to play Middlebury at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Eagles (9-2) will visit Milton at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“The biggest part of Mount Abe’s game is their physicality,” Moran said. “They play very hands-on, so we talked over the week about trying to be a little more physical and not backing down from the challenge. And the big part was that we stood up to them and played a lot more physical. We didn’t just let them bounce us off the ball. It took a little toll on us and some of my girls got beat up pretty good. But that’s soccer.”