LISBON — The Hall-Dale High School girls’ soccer team had only one approach going into its match-up against the Lisbon Greyhounds.
Bulldogs coach Guy Cousins said the goal all season has been to, “Play their style of soccer,” and he thought his team “dictated that right from the beginning,” as visiting Hall-Dale defeated Lisbon, 1-0, in Monday’s Mountain Valley Conference game.
Thea Sweet scored the game-winner in second half for Hall-Dale (7-3).
The Greyhounds (7-2-2) had only lost one previous game this season, along with first-half season draws against Monmouth Academy (2-2) and Mt. Abram (1-1), putting them fifth in the Western Class C Heal Point standings, with the Bulldogs sitting in ninth.
Greyhounds forward Deliah Schrieber has been a threat in front of the net over the course of the season and she proved that once again only two minutes into the game, sending a shot across the goalmouth, but it sneaked its way across before there was any chance of a follow-up shot.
Hall-Dale went to work after the close call and dominated the ‘Hounds side of the field for the majority of the first half.
With 22 minutes left to play, Bulldog Emma Begin took a hard rebound from 30 yards out and blasted a one-timer over the crossbar, nearly missing a go-ahead goal.
Lisbon’s defense, including Abby Gamache, Kailyn Hill, Chandler Riordan and Drew Stewart-Staples, consistently made the Bulldogs offense work for their chances, keeping the pressure off Greyhounds goalie Ali Sult.
“They’re a stingy defense, they always are.” Cousins said of the Greyhounds’ backfield. “They’re always tough to get the ball around and (Jake Gentle) coaches a well-disciplined team.”
Bulldogs defender Dani Sweet gave her team another quality scoring chance when she grabbed a loose ball from 25-yards out and was able to cut left around the Lisbon defense, but a one-handed block by Sult shut Hall-Dale down yet again.
With the Bulldogs leading the shots 6-2 heading into the second half, the Greyhounds had work to do, but Hall-Dale made that job harder just seven minutes in.
After Sult blocked a hard shot from Sweet, who received a through-ball from Eva Shepherd, the pair matched up again just one minute later, providing what resulted in the only goal of the game.
Shepherd took a pass from midfield and dribbled it 10 yards before finding Sweet on the Lisbon 18-yard line. Sweet didn’t miss, tucking a shot into the left pocket of the net for the lead.
“Today we had our energy up,” Shepherd said. “We were making sure we got to the ball first and making sure we had short passes, especially in front of the goal.”
The rest of the second half resulted in stalemate play between the two teams, but the Greyhounds battled in the final minutes.
With 4:28 remaining, Schrieber collected a pass from Loren Grant and broke toward the goal, but a patient Bulldogs netminder Olivia Maynard tracked the ball to end the threat and hold on to the victory.
“We just didn’t create enough offensive opportunities,” Greyhounds coach Jake Gentle said. “Hall-Dale did a great job of possessing the ball in the back and attacking from the back.”
Gentle stated that fine-tuning the mistakes on the defensive end will help limit future threats in the crease.
“We just have to come back and focus in practice of not making the defensive mistake at midfield,” he said. “We have to stop that transition break at midfield instead of trying to stop it way back in the 18.”
The Greyhounds face a tough three-game stretch to end the regular season, starting with No. 1 ranked Madison on Thursday, with No. 7 Mountain Valley and No. 3 St. Dom’s rounding out the schedule.