AUBURN — The St. Dom’s girls’ soccer team used its speed to overcome its own quickness Friday.
Despite being whistled for numerous offside infractions, St. Dom’s settled down and scored a pair of breakaway goals in the second half to pull away with a 4-1 victory over Old Orchard Beach in a Western Maine Class C soccer semifinal.
There was no one officially keeping track of the offsides calls against the Saints (15-0-1), but the approximate number was in the 15 to 20 range. This was due in part to the Seagulls’ offsides trap strategy. It was also in part to the Saints being a little too quick at midfield and beyond when the ball was threaded through the Seagull defenders.
“We knew coming in they played an aggressive offsides trap,” said St. Dom’s coach Kathy Little.
Knowing the strategy and practicing against it didn’t help with the Saints’ execution of patience.
“We know what it is,” said senior forward Sophie Goulet. “We were working really hard on it. I had to ask the referee at halftime what his rules for offsides were. It was frustrating.”
Holding a 2-1 advantage at the break, the Saints waited on through balls and utilized their speed to outrace the Seagull defenders for four breakaway scoring chances. Goulet converted the first and Stephanie Costello buried the final one.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Kayla McLellan chipped a pass ahead through a pair of Seagull defenders at midfield. Goulet sprinted down the middle of the field with two defenders chasing her while OOB keeper Gillian Foss (22 saves) came out to challenge.
“I could feel them gaining,” said Goulet. “I just got composed and went top corner. Once we got our through balls on, we had it all day.
While Goulet’s goal gave the Saints a two-goal difference and seemed to deflate the visitors, Costello’s score put the game away.
The junior pulled away from the pack at midfield with sophomore fullback Haley Kaliher glued to her hip. After the two jostled the final 20 yards on their approach to the OOB goal, Costello touched the ball past Foss with 19:19 left on the clock.
It was Costello’s second goal of the game.
The first half was back and forth with the Saints attempting to break past the trap to set up scoring chances. Old Orchard Beach (9-6-1), meanwhile, used long shots on the St. Dom’s goal to outshoot the home squad 26-16. Those shot were secured time and time again by keeper Mary Caron who turned in 22 saves and allowed nary a rebound.
“We weren’t getting quality shots,” said OOB coach Heath Floyd. “We needed that extra pass and were a little jumpy.”
The Saints took an early lead just over five minutes into the match. As Kayla McLellan dribbled the ball down the right wing, Foss came out aggressively to cut down the scoring angle. McLellan shot wide of the goal and rolled through the crease area, but teammate Marley Byrne outraced an OOB fullback to the ball and calmly tapped it into the open goal.
St. Dom’s added to its lead later in the half off a corner kick. Costello’s kick from the corner deflected off a defender and found its way into the goal.
The Seagulls then kept the Saints pinned in their own end for more than five minutes before Kelsey Koenigs cut the lead in half. Miranda Lessard sent a through ball ahead. As Caron came out in an attempt to secure the ball, Koenigs beat the sliding keeper to it and popped it into the net.
Koenigs’ tally was the last in-tight opportunity for the Seagulls. Although the Seagulls were able to put 14 shots on Caron in the second half, the junior faced every long shot and secure the ball with soft hands.
“She came to play today,”Little said of her keeper. “She played very well and was definitely in the game.”