Three different players found the back of the net on the heels of penalty corner tries and Brooke Surette led a stifling defense that allowed only one shot on goal as the top-seeded Raiders blanked No. 8 Mountain Valley 3-0 in their Western Class C quarterfinal contest.
“Defensively, Brooke really led the way and they helped cut off all the angles, took them out wide and they all got the balls up to the front,” Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert said.
Oak Hill (14-0-1) advances to the semifinals to face No. 4 North Yarmouth Academy, a 1-0 winner over Sacopee Valley on Saturday. The young Falcons finish the season with a 4-9-2 record.
“In the first week of the season, we lost to (Oak Hill) 8-1,” Mountain Valley coach Melissa Forbes said. “What you saw today, that was how much we’ve improved this season. This is us, 14 games later. We played a great game. There were no tears after this game. We don’t have any seniors. We’ll be back.”
A particularly bright spot for the Falcons was keeper Kassie Thibodeau. She was busy again Saturday, stopping 15 shots in the loss.
“The entire backfield is sophomores, and they’re learning to play together, and play aggressively,” Forbes said. “We did not generate enough offense, but we really didn’t break on defense.
“(Thibodeau) did a great job of staying low, she figured it out,” Forbes added. “She had fun. They all had fun. I told them all before the game, ‘Enjoy this, you’ve earned the right to be here.’ They had fun.”
Oak Hill had a hard time finding its footing on the slick surface at Bates College’s Morgan McDuffee field, the site chosen for the game after a week of heavy rain made the Raiders’ home turf unplayable.
Once it adjusted, Oak Hill’s speed was too much for Mountain Valley.
“We were looking to bring our passing game a little bit more, be able to spread it out,” Gilbert said. “With only having one practice on turf before this, it was difficult to get going. But they executed everything that we asked of them.”
“They’ve been together since they were young, they’ve been a unit for years,” Forbes said. “It helps to know who you’re passing to, who you’re playing next to. They’re fun to watch. They’re the No. 1 team for a reason.”
MVC Player of the Year Hayley Marshall lit the lamp first for the Raiders just 5:48 into the game, on the team’s first penalty corner. All three Oak Hill tallies came from set plays on corners.
“They kind of redeemed themselves after our last game that we had where we struggled and couldn’t finish on corners,” Gilbert said. “That’s what we really worked hard to be able to do. We really tried to make it simple — just get it to the top and fire it in and look for a deflection.”
Heather Hannigan notched the next one with 8:02 to play in the first with help from Danielle Samson, giving the home team a 2- advantage at the half.
The Raiders controlled the second half, but had a hard time putting the ball behind Thibodeau. Kayla Veilleux finally did in the final minute, again on a penalty corner, to cap the scoring.