Madison’s Taylor Tillinghast and Lisbon’s Caitlyn Hall race down the field toward the ball. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)
LISBON — The temperatures and bright sun on the soccer field made Wednesday feel more like preseason in August, not October. But the play between the Lisbon and Madison girls’ soccer teams on was anything but that.
Both teams played a tough, physical contest, and in the end the Greyhounds held off a pesky Madison squad 3-2 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
Senior Emma DiGregorio tallied a goal and an assist, while Kiley Merritt registered a pair of goals to lead the Greyhounds to their ninth victory of the season. Emily Edgerly scored Madison’s two goals.
The visitors came out “hungry” in the opening half, controlling much of the play thanks to a strong midfield of Edgerly, Jessica Turcotte and Katie Worthen.
“They (Madison) wanted us, they were physical and came out hungry,” Lisbon coach Jenniffer Perron said. “We came out flat, and we sometimes tend to do that before getting angry and turning it on.”
Each team missed opportunities in the first half. Lisbon earned a pair of attempts early with precise passes from DiGregorio and Giana Russo, only to have the shots either go wide or over the net.
Despite coming up empty-handed, Perron was happy with her team’s work.
“Having a passing pattern up front is what we work on,” Perron said. “When they use it, it works perfectly.”
Edgerly also had a direct kick go wide of the net in the 15th minute, but approximately 15 minutes later, she received another chance. On a direct kick just outside of the 18-yard line, the junior wrapped the ball around the right side of the Lisbon five-player wall, tucking it into the lower right corner to beat outstretched Lisbon goalkeeper Sarah Haggerty for the score.
“It’s important to come out hard and get that goal,” Madison coach Savanna Lawrence said. “We are definitely hungry and we try to get that lead every time.”
The Madison defense continued to frustrate the Greyhounds (9-4-1), with Bulldogs keeper Susannah Curtis turning away the first four shots on net she faced.
But with less than 20-seconds remaining, DiGregorio broke down the right side, looking ahead for Merritt to pass to.
“What I normally do is I boot it up, and I thought to myself, if I just keep it low and slow, Kiley will boot it because I trust her,” DiGregorio said.
Merritt took the pass and blasted a shot past Curtis for the equalizer with 12-ticks on the clock.
“That’s what we do in practice, that’s all we do,” Perron said. “It’s frustrating when it doesn’t come to fruition. But when it does, it’s magic. We can’t allow other teams pull us out of our game. That goal was essential for us to spark that fire up.”
Lisbon came out in the second half and immediately put pressure on the Madison defense, sending several shots to or around the net.
At 34:53, DiGregorio slipped through a couple of defenders and notched the go-ahead goal past Curtis.
“It was great for her. She works really hard and she knows its normally her job to pass,” Perron said of the senior midfielder. “She doesn’t really get those opportunities to score. If we get to rotate up front on offense, our middies get those opportunities, and today she took advantage of it.”
Merritt registered her second goal of the game when she dribbled in front of the net from right to left, pulling the defense along with her. When she suddenly stopped, the defenders did not and the junior blasted a shot to the back of the net for a 3-1 Lisbon lead.
However, Madison did not go away. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Edgerly did her own moves inside the box, beating Lisbon defenders and getting a shot off that Haggerty was unable to get a hand on to cut the lead to 3-2.
That was as close as the Bulldogs (7-5-1) were able to get, as Lisbon shut down the visitors by controlling play in the final minutes.
“I knew they were a tough team because they’ve always been good competition,” DiGregorio said. “We always play hard to the end and just push through every challenge.”
“I think when both teams play their best game, we’re fairly equal. At times we didn’t, and that was the difference today,” Lawrence said. “We’re going to keep working on the little things as we get ready for the playoffs. At this point of the season we have our style and we like to make a lot of passes, and when we don’t make those passes we don’t play our best game.”
Both teams wrap up the regular season with MVC games. Madison hosts Monmouth on Friday, while the Greyhounds travel to Rumford on Friday to take on Mountain Valley at 7 p.m.
Madison’s Grace Linkletter, left, and Lisbon’s Caitlyn Hall run side-by-side down the field during Wednesday’s MVC girls’ soccer game in Lisbon. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)
Lisbon’s Destiney Deschaines, right, and Madison’s Shelby Belanger race to the ball. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)