LISBON FALLS — Midway through the first half, the soccer game changed for Drew Stewart-Staples on Thursday.
Lisbon's sophomore defender was doing her job defending a potent Dirigo team, but she was relieved to have not drawn the toughest assignment of the day.
That went to senior Chantal Bisson. Her task was to shadow Dirigo's talented playmaker Natalie Bolduc.
Then just 13:21 into the game, Bisson got hurt. She was helped off the field with a leg injury and that meant Stewart-Staples had a new challenge.
"It was really shocking," said Stewart-Staples. "I wasn't expecting it. I was glad that Chantal was there so I wouldn't have to mark her, but then I ended up having to."
She did just fine in her new role. She led a Lisbon defensive effort that blanked the Cougars in a 2-0 girls' soccer win between two of Western C's top teams.
It was just the second time this year Dirigo has been shutout. The Cougars (7-3-1) have scored 33 goals.
"Our defense played really well," said Lisbon coach Jake Gentle, whose team has five shutouts and have allowed just four goals. "Kailyn Hill in the middle was great today. We knew coming in we had to keep an eye on Natalie Bolduc. Drew stepped up and did a great job on her. We had to make sure we had a double team when it was necessary."
Lisbon (8-0-1) got goals from Kayla Angelico and Gabby Ouellette.
It was a game with much at stake for both teams. Lisbon was third and Dirigo fourth in the latest Western C standings.
"We knew this was a big game for us in trying to make it to the MVC championship game and trying to get a home playoff game," said Gentle. "The game could have gone either way. We were just fortunate enough to put it in and that's soccer sometimes."
Though Dirigo outshot Lisbon 10-9, the Cougars just couldn't get many prime chances. What quality bids Dirigo had either went over the net or were stopped by Lisbon keeper Courtney Martel.
"As far as regular shots on goal, I thought we did pretty well," said Dirigo coach Art Chamberlin. "If we could have put one of those in, it would have been a different scenario altogether."
Instead, it was Lisbon that struck first. Just minutes after having a goal waived off because of an offsides call, the Greyhounds scored with 14:23 left in the half. Angelico and Huston had a nice give-and-go pass that set up an open look.
"It was really nice," said Angelico. "Chels just gave me a feed. We had like four good passes. I was a little surprised (to be that open). That doesn't usually happen. It worked well that time."
Dirigo had elected not to mark Angelico early in the game but paid for it on that goal. It took awhile for the Cougars to regroup.
"They get down and they seem not to be able to get it back," said Chamberlin. "That first goal killed us."
With the lead, Lisbon had Angelico play a little more in the midfield. Along with great play by Shantal MacWhinnie, the Greyhounds were able to control the midfield and continually make it harder for the Cougars. Lisbon was aggressive and did a great job winning possession most of the game.
"Last year when we played them, we didn't control the midfield as much as we needed to," said Gentle. "That was a big focus today, and we got some great play by our midfield and stopper."
Dirigo had a great bid early in the second half when Sabrina Daoud had a try in front but put it over the net. Bolduc had a free kick and Daoud had a chance on a pair of loose balls in front. Martel was able to recover and get the ball and nix those threats.
With 14:59 left, Ouellette made it 2-0. Her flip-throw from the left sideline went in off the hands of Dirigo keeper Natasha Deroche.
"This is one of our better games," said Angelico. "We've had a lot of good games, but it probably our best so far."