Rangeley High School’s Brooke Egan (18) battles for the ball with Richmond High School’s Bre Vintiner (4) in Rangeley on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
RANGELEY — Early, if not often, might as well be the mantra for the Richmond girls’ soccer team this season.
Sisters Ashley Brown and Laura Brown provided all the scoring the Bobcats would need, and the defending Class D state champions relied on a seasoned back four to bolster a season-opening 2-0 win over longtime nemesis Rangeley in an East/West Conference matchup Saturday morning.
Ashley Brown, a senior, opened her account for the season just 10 minutes into the contest, while freshman Laura Brown provided insurance in the 69th minute for the Bobcats.
“I was really pleased. I thought we really blanketed them defensively,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said. “We really wanted to play some lock-down defense and not allow them a lot of looks. I thought we did that.”
Richmond had lots of time on the ball, particularly in the middle of the field, to connect second and third passes in a string to get toward goal. Rangeley, on the other hand, turned many promising first touches into turnovers when trying to link those passes through Richmond’s central midfield of Caitlin Kendrick and Rylee Irish.
Senior sweeper back Emma Carbone was part of a triangle back four for the Bobcats — along with Lindsie Irish, Mayrbeth Sloat and Bryanne Lancaster — which suffocated the Lakers throughout the proceedings right behind the Kendrick-Irish combination. Rangeley managed just two shots at goal, one in each half.
“We have the same defense we had last year, and we didn’t graduate anyone from that,” Carbone. “We’re just staying tight and compact. If we’re not, it’s, ‘Run it again, run it again.’ A big focus for us this year is just get it out.
“I was standing on the (center) line for most of the game. We were just passing through the middle third and trying to get to the attacking third.”
Rangeley coach Chip Smith, whose team won nine games and allowed only one goal in two meetings (a 1-0 loss and a scoreless draw) against Richmond a season ago, made no bones about his expectations.
“I think if you take the first 10 minutes for us to settle in, which hurt us, and the last 10 minutes — if you take 20 minutes out of that soccer game, and you’re still looking at a 0-0 tie,” said Smith, whose team hadn’t played in 10 days following a long layoff at the end of preseason training. “I promise everybody things will be different. They’re a good program, and we set our standard to their program. … Our benchmark is Richmond, and we’re showing we can play them.”
But while defending is the backbone of the Bobcats, the goal-scoring is tougher to come by.
Kendrick was given too much time 25 yards from goal to turn and spot Ashley Brown, who found her way into the 18-yard box for her goal early on.
As the Lakers began to wear down late in the second half, Carbone’s restart from near midfield took a couple of deflections inside the area before squirting free to Laura Brown to finish off.
Richmond had more opportunities for goals in the second half, but Rangeley freshman Winnie LaRochelle made six saves to keep her team within striking distance.
“Before the game, we were talking about if we could get one in in the first few minutes, we could strike on that and stay on top of them,” Ashley Brown said. “Scoring goals is nice, but as long as we can keep the other team from scoring, we can still win with one goal.”
There were chances for more goals for Richmond, particularly on a number of nice crosses and corner kick plays that couldn’t find a runner to get on the end of them.
“We probably played a little better attacking-wise than I thought we might for the opening game,” Troy Kendrick said. “We’re still trying to sort out who are finishers are going to be and who’s going to score some goals for us.”
Richmond High School’s Ashley Brown (12) and Laura Brown (25) battle for the ball with Rangeley High School’s Brooke Egan (18) in Rangeley on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)