Monmouth’s Tia Day, left, dribbles past Madison’s Whitney Bess in a MVC girls’ soccer showdown Saturday at Monmouth Academy.
MONMOUTH — It’s not how you finish, it’s how you start. At least that’s the way it was between Monmouth Academy and Madison on Saturday night.
Madison tied the game up with two minutes left in the first half, only for Monmouth Academy to score twice in the first two minutes of the second half and hold on from there for a 4-2 victory in an MVC Class C South girls’ soccer clash at Chick Field.
Tia Day sent crosses to Audrey Fletcher and Alicen Burnham to break the tie, after scoring a goal herself in the first half of her senior homecoming game.
“We’ve never beaten Madison on our home field, so tonight was a perfect opportunity on homecoming,” Day said.
The Mustangs (5-1) fed off their home crowd early, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Bulldogs (5-1) did that first, Sydney LeBlanc taking advantage of a failed clear attempt by Monmouth for a goal 12 minutes in.
Fletcher tied it just over two minutes later with a rifle of a shot from the top of the box.
The Bulldogs seemed to grab momentum for the first time after Fletcher’s tying goal, but weren’t able to turn momentum into scoring chances.
“We kept trying to push it down the middle, even though we were talking about not doing it,” Madison co-coach Erin Wood said. “I think it’s that pace of play that we haven’t adjusted to yet because this is the first time we’ve faced this pace of play.”
Monmouth’s speed showed on a go-ahead goal by Day with 10 minutes left in the first half. Emily Grandahl sent a ball up toward the left side and Day made the run to get it. Bulldogs goalie Lauren Hay made the first save, but Day followed her shot and converted the rebound.
“We’re following the shots better this year than we have last year,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said.
The Bulldogs took advantage of Monmouth failing to clear a ball again with time winding down in the half. A Madison corner kick stuck around long enough for Jillian Holden to find the back of the net.
Wood said her team felt good about how it played the first 40 minutes, despite being outshot 8-3 on frame.
“We were keeping the intensity up,” Wood said. “We weren’t playing really the style of ball we wanted to play, but we were keeping the intensity up and that’s what we’ve asked them to do.”
The Mustangs brought intensity out of the halftime break, and they turned that into goals. Day crossed from the right into the box to Fletcher, who converted, 37 seconds in. A cross from the left by Day to Burnham also made its way past Hay 1:22 later.
“We made a few adjustment at halftime and they just came out with a lot of energy like we did at the beginning of the game, and I think we caught them by surprise at the beginning there,” Trafton said.
“We definitely wanted to push the ball like we did, keep going at the 50-50 balls and winning them, and just keep shooting, taking our opportunities,” Day said. “Definitely wanted to keep shooting it, cross the ball early, and that’s how we got our two goals.”
After that it was up to the Monmouth defense and junior goalie Destiny Clough to hold onto the lead, and they did. The Bulldogs put just one shot on target the rest of the way.
“We just couldn’t capitalize on the offensive end like we wanted to,” Wood said.
Hay made 11 saves in goal for Madison. Clough made one stop in each half for the Mustangs.
The soccer fields at Monmouth Academy illuminated by temporary lights Saturday evening.