Morse’s Megan Clifford, left, and Leavitt’s Alison Noniweicz, right, battle for the ball near the sidelines during Tuesday’s game in Bath. (Eric Maxim/The Times Record)
BATH — Defense was the name of the game at McMann Field in Bath on Wednesday. Both Leavitt and host Morse displayed plenty of it, keeping each other off the scoreboard in the second half and two overtimes as their girls’ soccer matchup ended in a 1-1 tie.
Morse moves to 2-2-1, while Leavitt stands at 1-3-1.
The two Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference schools each registered first-half goals before being blanked in the final 50-plus minutes of the game.
“That was fun to be a part of. Leavitt is a hard-working team,” Morse coach Branden Noltkamper said. “They’re organized, and have a style of play that suits them really well and put pressure on us.”
Leavitt’s coach Avalon Amador also was pleased with her team’s performance.
“Our goal for the game was to consistently play our game,” Amador said. “We wanted to slow the game down even though we were on turf, which really gave us the advantage when we were able to keep the tempo up while staying composed.”
Each team had chances early on in the half. Five minutes into the contest, Morse’s Emily Martin closed in on the net, but her kick missed wide.
Leavitt missed a chance midway through the half when the midfielders broke free of the Morse defense and passed the ball into the circle. But Shipbuilders senior Mae Winglass broke up the play before they were able to get a shot off.
The Hornets reached the back of the net first with a score at the 12:31 mark. Emily Sawn received a pass from midfield and found Jenna Boucher in front and the senior blasted a shot past Morse keeper Abby Sreden (six saves) for the score.
“It was an amazing pass, and I knew I had to get a good shot off,” Boucher said.
“It was just nice to see us crashing the net hard and creating opportunities,” Amador said. “Jenna is one of our senior captains and is one of our leaders. She has the most amazing work ethic. She’s a quiet leader, but leads by example.”
Four minutes later, the Shipbuilders evened the score.
Freshman Wren Tetreault made a pass to Martin and the junior put it past Leavitt keeper Abigail Bays (four saves) for the goal.
“Wren hit it to me and I used my speed to get to the net,” Martin said.
Despite defenses teaming up on her, Martin seems to find a way.
“They can double- or triple-team her and she finds a way to get the ball. She genuinely makes everyone around her better,” Noltkamper said.
Martin sometimes gets frustrated with the double-teaming, but she also recognizes she doesn’t have to do it alone.
“It does a little bit, it gets a little annoying,” Martin said. “If you can still work with each other, which we showed, we have more people on the ball that can deal with it and take some of the pressure off.”
Morse almost broke the tie with under seven minutes in the half when Martin found Julia Cliffe streaking down the middle, but Cliffe’s shot went up over the net.
The hosts finished the half with four shots on goal, while the Hornets made three. Morse took five corners to Leavitt’s none in the opening half.
Martin nearly punched home another goal off a direct kick 16 minutes, but the shot sailed over the net.
Fifteen minutes later, the Hornets nearly did the same. Leavitt’s Annika Mitchell took an indirect kick and kicked it towards the net, but Martin intercepted the ball by heading it away from the net.
“We had a couple of opportunities in front of the net, but their defense was strong and quick,” Amador said.
Martin and the Shipbuilders had one more shot on net in regulation that missed again wide.
“I know I have to finish, I missed some chances,” Martin said.
In the two five-minute overtimes, Morse had a couple of shots on goal, but neither team made a run and the game ended in a tie.
“We had dozens of chances today, but that’s good, it’s OK,” Noltkamper said. “I told the girls they can be upset with the outcome if they want to be, but you can’t be mad about the performance. We’ve been putting the work in in our training in all facets of our game.”
Amador was satisfied with the effort.
“We take what we’re learning and applying it to game situations,” she said. “We’ve been building up to that the last few games, and this game I saw us connect the dots.”