Eagles impress, draw with Belmont in scoreless Homecoming tilt


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Gilford's Michaela Niskala dribbles the ball past Belmont's Chloe Sottak in the teams' 0-0 draw during Homecoming in Gilford on Saturday. The two teams meet again in the rematch this Saturday in Belmont. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 26, 2016
GILFORD One hundred minutes of soccer wasn't enough to separate the Gilford High School and Belmont High School girls' soccer teams. The two rivals battled to a 0-0 draw on Saturday during GHS Homecoming, setting the stage for what will undoubtedly be an intense rematch in Belmont this Saturday with bragging rights for the 2016 season on the line.

Gilford (1-7-1), which picked up its first win of the season earlier in the week against Laconia, played one of its best games of the year on Saturday. With goalkeeper Hannah Perkins making some key saves, the defensive unit powered by Olivia Trindade, Olivia Harris and Emily Smith quieted a potent Belmont offensive attack.

After 80 minutes of scoreless action, two overtime periods were needed to settle things on Homecoming. In the first OT, Belmont's Katie Gagnon put a shot off the far post after breaking down the right side with 5:30 remaining. Trindade was able to clear the ball out of danger, and the teams played on.

Just 1:05 later, Gilford put together what wound up being its best scoring opportunity of the entire game. Sarah Fillion took a feed from Lauren Dean and broke in alone on Belmont goalkeeper Mariah Watson. Fillion uncorked a shot from just inside the 18-yard box, but the ball floated wide of the mark, and the teams headed to a second OT period.

Belmont senior captain Kelsey Scott had the best scoring chance of the second overtime, as she blasted a shot that had eyes for the far corner of the Gilford net. Perkins came up with her best save of the day, leaping sideways to snag the ball out of the air and forcing the Raiders to settle for the 0-0 final.

After a solid first half from Belmont saw Scott and Emma Chase pepper the Gilford net, the Eagles responded and played a much better second stanza to force OT. Still, the Raiders had their chances to get on the board after intermission. The best chance came with just 8:06 to play in regulation, when senior Hannah Shirley's blast hit a Gilford defender's hand in the box, drawing a penalty kick. Scott took the PK, but her shot was wide of the mark, and the Eagles survived.

Gilford nearly stole the game with 3:30 left before OT, as Sophie Leggett's corner kick floated dangerously across a vacant goal line with several Eagle players just out of reach. No one was able to get their foot or body on the ball, and Belmont defender Sana Syed eventually worked it away from her own goal area.

The Raiders played the game with no substitutes after suffering through a rash of injuries recently. The defensive unit was powered by a trio of sophomores in Sana Syed, Paige Dillon and Kaitlyn Delisle along with senior stalwart Jasmine Syed.

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