Keeper Kaitlyn Berry reaches up to try and grab the ball away from Prospect's Kathryn McGinnis in action Sept. 10. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
September 16, 2013ALTON — The Prospect Mountain Timber Wolves have traditionally provided the Belmont soccer girls with problems.
That's why coach Amy Dutton knew, even up 4-1 midway through the first half on Prospect's home field in Alton, things were not safe.
And when Prospect cut that lead to 4-2 in the final five minutes of the half, things got even scarier.
However, Dutton's young squad bounced back, getting the second of two goals from Kelsey Scott with less than three minutes to go in the first half, providing a little insurance in a game that the Red Raiders would end up winning by a 6-2 score.
"It never seems to be uneventful on this field," Dutton said. "It's always crazy when we play them."
She noted that with no seniors, the Red Raiders are still in a position early in the season of finding their game and figuring out how the pieces fit together.
"I'm proud of them," she said. "We're still figuring ourselves out, we're still shifting people around.
"The exciting part is we have so much room to grow," Dutton added.
The game didn't start out the way Dutton or her troops would've liked, as Prospect Mountain managed to get one past keeper Kaitlyn Berry just two minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.
However, the Red Raiders responded and started pressuring the ball up the field, with Scott just missing MaKayla Donovan on a crossing pass and Donovan firing a shot on net that was stopped by the Prospect keeper.
The Red Raiders made the pressure pay off with nine minutes gone in the half, as Emily Ennis helped create a turnover in the offensive zone and found Scott, who buried the shot, tying the game at one.
Belmont continued to pressure and once again that pressure paid off, as the Red Raiders went on a scoring streak, putting in three goals in the course of about six minutes of play.
Cassie Contigiani got the rally started by drilling a shot to the far post on an assist from Ennis on a corner kick. Just a few minutes later, it was Emma Chase finding the twine, as she beat the Timber Wolf defense and fired a shot off the keeper's fingers and in for a 3-1 lead.
And just a few minutes after that, Belmont got a corner kick and made it count. Megan Prescott booted the ball in and with a crowd of Red Raiders charging the net, Contigiani put home her second goal of the game, giving Belmont a 4-1 lead with the clock still showing 20 minutes to play in the first half.
For Dutton, seeing success scoring on the set plays was a good sign.
"Scoring on those set pieces was huge," she said.
As Dutton has come to expect, the Timber Wolves didn't go away, as they tested Berry and the Belmont defense with some strong looks in the offensive zone and that pressure paid off when the Timber Wolves got a shot off of Berry's fingers and into the net, cutting the lead to 4-2 with about five minutes to play in the half.
Prospect fought hard to cut the lead again, but Berry made a nice save and Courtney Clairmont stepped up with a strong defensive play to help out her keeper.
The Raiders then took away all momentum Prospect was trying to build, scoring with less than two minutes to go in the half, as Scott put home a feed from Kylie O'Connell to take a 5-2 lead to the halftime break.
Belmont scored again less than eight minutes into the second half, as Scott completed her hat trick, drilling a shot to the far corner from the top of the box for a 6-2 lead.
Donovan, Presoctt, Chayleigh Cadarette and Contigiani all had chances in the second half of the second half, but there was no more scoring to be done, with the Red Raiders taking the 6-2 win.
Dutton was quick to praise the work of Zoe Zeller and Cadarette in the backfield, as the two provide the veteran leadership on the back line for the Red Raiders.
"It's basically a whole new defense (around them)," Dutton said, noting that Jasmine Syed and Clairmont have certainly been helped by their experienced teammates.
"They're gaining confidence every day," Dutton said. "And with Zoe and Chay, they have confidence in them too, they believe in them."
Dutton did note that there were some things that had to be improved on, but overall, was pleased with how the team continues to progress.
"The important thing is, we're improving every day," the Red Raider mentor said.
She noted that her halftime speech focused on being able to close out games and the girls did a good job of keeping the Timber Wolves off the board in the second half and controlling the ball enough to allow them to walk off with a win.
The two teams will play again when the Timber Wolves come to visit Belmont on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org