The Cougars started slowly, but scored two goals in a 2:19 span of the second half, including Lauren Henderson’s winning goal, en route to a 3-1 triumph over St. Dom’s in an MVC showdown.
Dirigo goalie Morgan Morrow made 11 saves as she and defenders Kaitlyn Olsen, Kaitlyn Radcliffe and Hayley Turner, and midfielders Emma Lueders and Desiree Tracey-Radcliffe, stepped up under the Saints’ pressure, particularly in the second half.
The Saints and Cougars ended in a tie after double-overtime game last month in Auburn, making Friday’s rematch important for both teams. Dirigo started the day ranked fifth in the most recent Heal Points, while St. Dom’s was 11th, one spot shy of a playoff berth.
Dirigo (4-6-1) regrouped at halftime and immediately went on the offensive in the second half. The pressure paid off when Kelsey Hutchins crossed a shot and it bounced off a defender. Henderson was positioned on the left and poked the ball past Saints goalie Taylor Bergeron at 6:53 in too the final half.
“The ball came across and I was thinking I needed to cross it back,” said Henderson, a first-year starter after having played soccer for two seasons.
“But the ball hit a defender and I was able to poke it in the cage.”
The Cougars regained control of the ball and flooded the offensive zone. Once again, Hutchins started things by firing a shot that Bergeron saved. The ball bounced to the left and Olivia Noyes banged it home at 20:48. It was Noyes’ first goal of the season.
“In the second half, we needed to be more aggressive.” Dirigo assistant coach Ellen Wainwright said. “It was during halftime that we told the girls that they needed to believe in themselves and they really were more intense and picked up the pace.”
St. Dom’s (2-9-1) began at a furious pace, getting shots early by Logan Ronan, Olivia Chase and Emma Samson. The constant pressure paid off when the ball hit a Dirigo defenders foot and a penalty stroke was awarded. Freshman Callie Samson squared-up and flicked a high shot that Morrow tried blocking, but the ball caromed off her arm pad into the netting.
“I’m not sure what happened,” St. Dom’s coach Brian Kay said of the second half. “We were so intense in the first half and moved the ball well. But, we start eight freshmen and I think our youthfulness showed in the second half.”
With the Saints on top 1-0 after Samson’s stroke, the Cougars began their comeback late in the opening half. After fighting back against the Saints’ pressure, Dirigo was awarded a penalty corner. The play began with Hutchins receiving the ball and she centered a pass from the outer-right edge of the circle. Ellen Wainwright one-timed a shot past Bergeron with 2:10 left in the first half to tie the game at 1-1.
“The defense really picked it up,” Henderson said. “We are working well together and we went to the ball and our crossing passes have improved.”
St. Dom’s had its chances, including a great chance in the second half while trailing by two. Chase sent Hannah Braun-Trottier in alone. But, Morrow ranged way out to disrupt the play and the ball rolled wide right.