N ANSON, ME – SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
Monmouth Academy’s Alicen Burnham (8) gains control of the ball against Carrabec High School in North Anson on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Staff Photo by Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer)N ANSON, ME – SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
Monmouth Academy’s Abbie Crawford (20) battles with Carrabec High School’s Caitlin Crawford (16) in North Anson on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Staff Photo by Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer)
NORTH ANSON — One coach grinning ear to ear, one coach running all the what-ifs through their mind.
After Monmouth Academy’s 2-0 Mountain Valley Conference girls soccer win over Carrabec, it was difficult to tell which was which. But Cobras skipper Heidi Vicneire was positively beaming, even in the aftermath of defeat.
“Would a coach that loses look like this?” Vicneire said through a wide smile.
The Mustangs scored twice inside five minutes early in the first half to provide the game with all the goals it would see, with junior Jordyn Gowell and sophomore Alicen Burnham doing the honors as Monmouth improved to 4-1-0.
From Burham’s 17th-minute tally, the match could kindly be referred to as ‘a defensive struggle’ — which was more than fine with Vicneire, who employed senior Makayla Vicneire defensively instead of in her more traditional midfield role.
“We haven’t won a game yet, but every game we’re proving more and more. I’m super proud of them,” Heidi Vicneire said. “We wanted to be a defensive team today. … We did well because the whole team was defensive today. Everybody. We’re taking this as a win in some ways other than the score.”
The proof was in the pudding for the Cobras (0-2-1). Though Gowell cracked through in the 12th minute and Burnham did the same five minutes later, the goals came on Monmouth’s first two shots on target.
Most of the second half left the Mustangs frustrated that they couldn’t add a third, even when Gowell clipped the crossbar in the 61st minute from close range, Bre Smith couldn’t put home a Burnham cross in the 61st or when Audrey Fletcher’s free kick from 25 yards skimmed the bar in the 71st.
Which is what left Monmouth coach Gary Trafton wondering how much his side left on the table.
“We do have some areas that we need to work on,” Trafton said. “We have to finish the shots. We had opportunities. We had some good looks, but we’re just relying on only a few people and we have to break away from that.
“When a team’s really aggressive and our touches aren’t real great, if we don’t make a clean touch then the other team is right on it. Against good teams…”
His fears were nearly founded, when Carrabec freshman Aislinn Slate slid into a bending shot to the near post to force a diving save from Monmouth’s Destiny Clough (three saves) in the 69th minute.
It would have been the one goal the Cobras were looking for to turn the game upside down in front of junior goalkeeper Ashley Cates (six saves).
“I feel like, yes, if we would have gotten one in (there was a second one coming),” Vicneire said.
For Gowell, who has slid into the central midfield alongside Fletcher after spending all of her sophomore season as an outside back, it’s a transition that is starting to feel more comfortable. And seeing out a fourth clean sheet this season — and third in a row — it’s a sign that the Mustangs are a different team than the offensive juggernaut of recent seasons.
“I feel like I’m getting more used to it,” Gowell said. “We still want to score and get far enough ahead that the other team doesn’t think they can come back, but (defensively) we have to keep stepping to the ball, getting in front of our marks and getting to the ball first when it comes to us.”