Gilford’s Cassidy Bartlett battles with a Prospect Mountain defender during the Eagles’ 2-0 win on Sept. 11. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 17, 2012GILFORD – Last year, the Gilford High School girls' soccer team struggled to get over the hump against Prospect Mountain.
It was a much different story when the teams met for the first time in 2012 on Sept. 11.
The Eagles held play from start to finish, working the ball around nicely and frustrating the visiting Timberwolves all afternoon en route to a convincing 2-0 win in Division III action that saw Gilford improve to 4-1 on the season.
"I was pretty excited about our possession game," said Gilford second-year coach Becky Zumbach. "Our passing was really strong and we were able to work the ball around pretty well throughout the game."
Gilford had all sorts of scoring opportunities in the first half, with senior midfielder Molly Dietrich putting six shots on goal herself. PM (3-3) held the Eagles off the scoreboard early but Gabi Defregger got the hosts going with 32:26 left in the first half. The senior midfielder was well-positioned in front of the PM net during a corner kick, and a shot from Katherine Rice was initially saved. Defregger volleyed home the rebound however, giving Gilford a 1-0 lead.
Most of the rest of the first half was played in the PM zone, though the T-Wolves buckled down and didn't allow any other scores before intermission.
"We had a lot of chances," admitted Zumbach. "I was hopeful that we'd capitalize on more of them but hopefully that'll come as the season goes along."
Needing another goal to really put the pressure on PM, the Eagles scored just 1:08 into the second half to make it 2-0. Defregger played a nice long ball into the PM box, with sweeper Ella Montminy misplaying it and failing to clear. Gilford freshman Dana Ruchti jumped on the loose ball and placed it into the right corner of the goal mouth to double the lead.
"Getting an early goal in the second half was huge," said Zumbach. "We definitely needed that because Prospect Mountain came out stronger in the second half."
PM had perhaps its best scoring chance with 28:15 left in regulation, as Kelly Jones broke in on Gilford goalkeeper Paige Laliberte. But the senior keeper was up to the task, and she came out and made a sliding play on the ball. Laliberte's back leg got a piece of it, knocking the ball away from the danger zone and allowing sophomore defender Emily Parker to clear it.
"They didn't get a ton of chances but Paige made a couple nice saves when we needed her to," said Zumbach.
Defenders Abby Harris, Sarah Veazey, Rice and Parker led a strong effort from the GHS back line, as the T-Wolves struggled to sustain pressure in the attacking third.
It was a big win for the Eagles, especially after struggling to beat Prospect in 2011. The T-Wolves reached the D-III semifinals a year ago.
"We had a couple of close games with them last year but we were never able to quite get a step ahead when we needed to," said Zumbach. "So we're happy to get this one and hopefully keep it going over the next couple of weeks."
The teams meet again on Oct. 9 in Alton. Before then, the Eagles have quite a tough stretch of games to highlight the middle of the season. Gilford will meet Belmont (twice), Campbell and Somersworth between now and then, a stretch that will likely go a long way in determining where the Eagles will find themselves in the end of the season standings.