MONMOUTH – Mountain Valley Conference rivals Hall-Dale and Monmouth Academy had battled to 2-1 decisions in their last two meetings, including last year’s Western Class C preliminaries. So what were the odds of the same score happening again for Tuesday’s Western Class C prelim.

Fortunately for Hall-Dale, Michelle Severance thought the chances were pretty good, so she found an extra gear and scored what proved to be the winning goal as the 10th-seeded Bulldogs knocked the seventh-seeded Mustangs out for the second-straight year by a 2-1 score.

Dribbling along the right wing, Severance beat a Monmouth defender and took an angle on the far corner. Her shot went to the near post but still skid past a diving Monmouth goaltender Bethany Neal to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead and some much-needed breathing room with 24:13 left in the contest.

“I was thinking we needed another goal because, if they scored, I didn’t want to be tied because that adds pressure,” said Severance, whose goal was her team-leading 11th on the season. “I wanted to get another while I could.”

Sure enough, Monmouth’s Jenn Lola cut the lead in half with 6:55 left on a beautifully-placed kick just under the crossbar and out of the reach of Hall-Dale keeper Ally Godbout. Almost four minutes later, Lola had a chance to tie the game when Godbout made a risky decision to leave the net and bear down on Lola as she dribbled in from the left wing. Lola’s shot bounced wide to the left of the near post and Hall-Dale held on.

During the regular season, Monmouth (8-6-1) had gained a measure of revenge for last year’s playoff loss with a 2-1 win in double-overtime. Neal missed that game with a broken left wrist and was making her first appearance in net in a month Tuesday, so Hall-Dale was hoping to test her early and often.

But neither team was able to do much in the first half, combining for just seven shots. The Bulldogs best chance came more than 20 minutes into the contest when Severance blasted a chest-high laser that Neal, still wearing a brace on her left arm, was able to deflect with both hands. Moments later, Godbout (eight saves) snagged Alyssa Morin’s free kick to deny Monmouth’s best chance.

“We really needed to capitalize in the first half when the wind was blowing hard in our favor and we didn’t,” said Monmouth coach Steve Bodge. “We didn’t exactly use the flip throws too well. We probably should have used one of those and capitalized in the first half. We just didn’t.”

Hall-Dale capitalized on an unlikely opportunity to break the ice 8:39 into the second half when junior defenseman Melissa Bills booted a high kick from about 10 yards inside the center line over a crowd in front of the net. The ball took a big hop and bounced over Neal and into the net as the goalie slipped and fell on her backside.

“I’ve never scored a goal like that before. I’ve never actually scored a goal before, except on corner kicks,” Bills said. “I was just trying to get it away from my side of the field so all of our defense could get back.”

Hall-Dale (6-7-2) will face No. 2 North Yarmouth Academy in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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