AUBURN — Wiscasset pushed the St. Dominic Academy defense back into its penalty area. Shot after shot was sent toward the Saints net, manned by goaltender Nicole Robitaille.
Not one found its target in a 4-0 St. Dom’s MVC victory.
Four goals by Saints forward Faith Grady were the difference. The senior scored them all on breakaways, simply outrunning the Wiscasset defense before slipping a shot past Wolverines goaltender Kayla Gordon.
Gordon did her best in making 10 saves, most from point-blank range.
Led by senior Sam Ladd, the St. Dom’s defense did its best ice hockey impersonation, blocking the countless Wiscasset attempts. Only two getting through to Robitaille, who made the two saves.
The win gives St. Dom’s a 9-2 record, while Wiscasset fell to 3-7-1.
“She is a force in the back, and we are very lucky to have her back there,” said St. Dom’s coach Alicia Pelletier of the senior Ladd, who is anchoring a Saints defense beset by injuries. “There is not much more you can ask of a back like her, especially when we are putting two freshmen back there and starting one.”
Wiscasset coach Duane Goud felt his team showed it can play the possession game against one of the league’s best teams but realizes his Wolverines are frustrated by their lack of finishing prowess.
“I think when this team puts passes together, crosses in, we can be dangerous,” said Goud, whose squad looks to end an eight-game winless streak at Telstar on Friday. “We just can’t put the ball into the back of the net. We had so many opportunities today, and we have had a bunch of chances all season.”
St. Dom’s showed its hand right out of the gate. Wiscasset moved forward, but a quick steal and long ball to Grady had the Saints leading scorer off to the races. She made a move on Gordon and launched a shot, but the senior goaltender made a diving save to keep it scoreless.
Grady had another breakaway five minutes later, with Gordon again coming up big.
On Grady’s third try, Gordon wasn’t as fortunate. Taking a lead pass from Kym Johnson, Grady slowly moved in and forced the goaltender to make the first move. A quick strike made for a 1-0 contest with 14:25 remaining in the first half.
Grady hit the cross bar later in the half, again on a clean break.
“We can’t play the trap,” said Goud, who watched as Grady made it a 2-0 contest off a pass from Kirsten Connor with 6:02 left in the opening frame. “We are just not fast enough to play the trap. I would like to be able to do it, especially with the playoffs coming up. We are going to have to hang back and play defense.”
Just 2:22 into the second half, Johnson again set up Grady for a 3-0 lead, and midway through the frame, Grady finished her big day with Natalye Masters earning the breakaway assist.
Throughout the remainder of the contest, Wiscasset backed the Saints up into their zone. The Wolverines earned eight corner kicks in the second frame.
“It is delicate trying to block shot. You have to think that your body doesn’t matter,” said Ladd after blocking seven shots on her own. “We talk really well together and we protect the goal, possess the ball out. Our goal is to not allow the ball to end up in the back of the net. When we play good defense, anything can happen.”
Defensively, St. Dom’s leaned on Ladd, Emily Caron, Jacqueline Schmitz and Rileigh Stebbins, with each blocking their share of Wiscasset shots.
“We are a big on building all the way up, and you can’t have a good offense without a good defense,” said Ladd.
“We don’t want to just play defense,” said Pelletier, whose Saints host Winthrop on Thursday. “We want to also possess the ball. If we can figure that piece out and get healthy, it will make us a force to contend with.”
In regards to Wiscasset’s ability to possess the ball, Pelletier added, “They definitely possess the ball and controlled most of the game. It was a great job by a our defense and our goalie, and we got lucky when they missed a couple open shots. They may be scary come the playoffs.”