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Lakers weather elements in 2-1 win over Gilford


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Alexandra Brewer keeps the ball away from Gilford’s Sydney Strout during Senior Day in Meredith on Oct. 19. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
October 22, 2012
MEREDITH – A lot changed for the Inter-Lakes High School girls' soccer team in 45 days.

A month and a half after being dismantled on the road at Gilford High School, 8-1, on Sept. 4, the young Lakers picked up the biggest win of their season on Oct. 19. On Senior Day in Meredith, I-L held on for a 2-1 win over the visiting Eagles in miserable conditions on the turf field.

"We didn't show up that last time," admitted I-L coach Steve Jordan of the first meeting with Gilford. "And we certainly couldn't do that again. Gilford's a high caliber team. We can certainly play with anyone but we couldn't not show up like last game and hope to pull out a win."

With the rain falling and getting worse during the course of the afternoon, both teams fought through the elements to try and earn a victory in the last regular season game of the season. While the first half went back and forth for the first 20 minutes, it was I-L freshman Caitlin Rotonnelli who put the Lakers on the board with 14:15 left before halftime. Rotonnelli got free on a breakaway, beating a diving Gilford goalkeeper Paige Laliberte with a left-footed shot to the far post for a 1-0 advantage.

The Eagles (11-4-1) had some chances to tie the game late in the first half, as senior Molly Dietrich put a pair of shots on net. I-L goalkeeper Tricia DelRossi was up to the challenge however, and she made some key saves before intermission to keep the Lakers ahead 1-0 at the break.

"Tricia had some great saves today," said Jordan. "When she came out of the box, she was very confident. She didn't rush it. She put herself in the places she needed to be. She saw the ball well and that's all you can ask for."

The Lakers (10-6) came out firing in the second half, with Sarah Dunlap nearly doubling the lead with 32:10 left. Dunlap's shot on net was turned back by a diving Laliberte, who managed to get her foot on the ball and keep it out of the goal.

DelRossi matched the big save for I-L 17 minutes later, as Gilford forward Sydney Strout got past the last line of defense and took a shot. But the Laker keeper also got a piece of the ball with her foot, and I-L was able to clear the zone in the process.

With Gilford starting to gain more of the possession territorially, the Lakers came up with a huge play with 7:12 remaining. Rotonnelli managed to get behind the Gilford defense on the left side, and she broke in on the 18-yard box. The sophomore played a nice pass across to Charlotte Morrow, who took her time and deposited the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 Lakers advantage.

"We needed another goal to have that insurance and take some of the pressure off," Jordan said. "Every little bit of confidence that they can have makes a difference. The intensity was huge today. Communication on the field was good, everyone was aligning with each other well. They really wanted this game and they showed it."

Despite the two-goal deficit, the Eagles wouldn't go away quietly. With just over two minutes left, Laliberte took a free kick from near midfield with the rest of the team jumping forward for extra offense. The ball somehow found the foot of Dietrich, and she spun around and scored from close range to cut the lead to 2-1 with time winding down.

Gilford would have one more crack at the goal, but I-L's Alexandra Brewer poked the ball out of the zone, allowing the Lakers to hold on for the big win.

"That's a pretty big win," admitted Jordan. "We stressed before how big it was with the girls, Gilford obviously being a local rival. And they're a great team. They're very talented and they've got some great seniors that lead them. So to be able to beat a team like that is very rewarding."

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