Oak Hill goalie Anna Dodge dives to make a save during pregame of a game against Boothbay in Wales on Thursday.
WALES — It only took one game into the season for Oak Hill senior goalie Anna Dodge to show her worth.
Standing in the goal mouth all alone, awaiting a penalty kick against Lisbon, Dodge dived to make a save on a shot in the lower corner in a game the Raiders won 3-1.
“The balls she gets to at times when she needs to are pretty impressive,” Oak Hill coach Jeremy Young said. “The PK at Lisbon, bottom corner, and she got there. From 12 yards, that’s pretty well-struck ball, and she got there.
“And the team has the confidence. It’s not a situation where there’s a PK called and they’re walking away and we’re down on our heels thinking ‘oh, it’s going to go in.’ She has a shot at all the balls.”
That doesn’t mean she can stop every shot, however.
The Raiders fell behind early in their third game of the season against Boothbay. A Seahawk striker got open near the top of the box and lofted a shot over Dodge in a spot that even she couldn’t get to.
“There’s definitely some I can’t make,” Dodge said. “It depends on the shot, depends on the game, how your defense is, how their offense is.”
“Anna’s a bit humble,” Young said. “While she’s right, she can’t get everything, she does have a great range.”
Young knows Dodge’s talents as well as anyone. He’s been on the Oak Hill coaching staff her entire high-school career, the first two as JV coach and varsity assistant, and the last two as head varsity coach. Among his responsibilities during his time as the JV coach was to work with the goalies.
“It’s been a fun progression,” Young said. “We had her play some as a freshman, on varsity, at goal. But we didn’t want to have too much pressure on her. It’s a big spot to fill and be in as a freshman. And so we sort of picked our shots and chose our opportunities. Felt sort of comfortable as a sophomore having her have those minutes. And her range, her reaction and her decision-making have certainly improved.”
Dodge was an all-conference honorable mention as a sophomore, and last was named second-team all-conference.
“I want to do as good or even better than last year,” Dodge said. “Our goal was always improvement.”
One area of improvement the Raiders can make is to beat Monmouth Academy, something they haven’t done during Dodge’s career, and something she would like to accomplish when her team faces the Mustangs on Tuesday.
“We haven’t beat them, and that would be incredible to do,” Dodge said.
Dodge said she doesn’t feel any pressure to be perfect in big games, at least not from her teammates. But Young said there is pressure there.
“She’s hard on herself. I want to kind of avoid that at times because she’s harder on herself than I think she deserves to be or needs to be,” Young said. “That’s why she plays so hard, that’s why she practices so hard, that’s why she’s the player she is. If she didn’t have that internal drive to have clean sheets, to be flawless in practice, it wouldn’t be there.”
Dodge knows she can’t stop every shot alone. Short of penalty kicks, every shot she faces is predicated on what her defense allows the opponent to do. That defense in front of her is led by classmate Julia Ahlberg.
“Julia, she knows how all of her teammates play. She knows when she should give the ball. She’s great with her feet,” Dodge said. “She saves a lot of shots from coming my way.”
“With Julia, with Lindsey (Weeks), Britney (Duchesneau), Cassie (Gauthier), Jade (Sturtevant), Alexis (Harris) and other players who fill in … a lot of times the defense cuts down those angles,” Young said. “It’s rare that she has a shot 1-v-1 like that. It’s got to be well-placed to get by Anna. It’s very rare that she bobbles the ball, or has an odd one at her feet, or whatever else. It’s got to be pretty well-placed, and at that point the defense of the team understands that if that ball gets to Anna like that, then they didn’t close out somebody quite enough.”
Young said goalies sometimes take the blame on the stat sheet when things don’t go well. That’s why Dodge’s teammates were so happy for her when she got to play in the field in Oak Hill’s second game of the season against Dirigo. Dodge scored a goal and assisted on another.
“You would have thought that we won the Super Bowl when she scored a goal,” Young said. “The team understands that she does a lot for them in the back, and the stat sheet shows it at times, and other times it doesn’t. And so when she can get on the stat sheet by putting one in the net, they erupted, which is fun to see. The friendship and the camaraderie that we have on the team makes tough times easier.”
Tough times have been few since Dodge took over as the starting goalie her sophomore year, but there have been some. She will look to keep making tough saves — like the PK stop at Lisbon — and make the tough times even fewer.
Oak Hill senior goalie Anna Dodge, left, chats with teammate Julia Ahlberg at halftime of a game against Boothbay in Wales on Thursday.Oak Hill goalie Anna Dodge warms up before a game against Boothbay in Wales on Thursday.Oak Hill goalie Anna Dodge follows through on a punt during a game against Boothbay in Wales on Thursday.
Oak Hill goalie Anna Dodge warms up before a game against Boothbay in Wales on Thursday.