AUBURN — It was a game the St. Dom’s girls’ soccer team has had their eyes on for quite some time.

With every fluctuation of the Western C standings, the Saints became even more anxious for a showdown with unbeaten Madison.

“We knew this game, after leap frogging with them in the standings, was going to be a tough game,” junior forward Faith Grady said. “I think in our minds, we had the mindset that we wanted to come out and win it.”

The Saints proved that with an early goal Tuesday and a pair of goals late in the first half that beat the Bulldogs 3-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference matchup.

Grady scored a pair of goals. Her first came at 1:04. Then after an Emma Byrne tally late in the half, Grady scored again just 1:24 later.

“It kind of relieved us, but we didn’t want to sit on it,” Grady said of the first goal. “So we kept fighting.”

The Saints (7-1-1) and Bulldogs (6-1-1)  have jostled for the top spot in Western C all season. St. Dom’s stumbled a little last week with a loss and a tie while suffering through injuries to key players.

“I was very happy,” St. Dom’s coach Alicia Pelletier said. “We’ve been battling back from injuries and making headway with that. It was nice to see us come out and put those aside and put last week aside and play as strong as we did and play two halves as well as we did.”

It was the first loss for the Bulldogs, which have outscored teams 22-3 this season. St. Dom’s jumped into the top spot in the Western C standings with the victory.

“Unfortunately, that’s a wake-up call to start the game down 1-0,” Madison coach Mike Herrick said. “I felt at crucial times in the game, starting a half and ending a half, we didn’t do things well. We let that second goal up and that led to the third one. 3-0 is tough to come back from.”

Grady’s first goal came off a cross by Marley Byrne from the right side. Grady got a foot on it in the air and redirected it into the net.

“I didn’t really expect to get that,” said Grady. “I don’t want to say it was lucky, but it kind of was.”

Madison tried to rally and started to play better. Kayla Bess had a good shot from the middle that went wide. Madeline Wood had a pair of bids. One went wide and another was stopped by goalie Kelly Pomerleau.

“I thought we responded well after the first goal,” Herrick said. “We started to build an attack. We started to possess the ball, but it wasn’t for a long period of time. We were getting shots on goal, but the difference was our shots were 30 to 40 yards out. Their shots were inside the 18. You’re not going to beat a keeper like they have from 40 yards out.”

Madison Curtis helped save a goal when Emma Byrne had an opportunity at an open net. Curtis cleared it away from Byrne. The Saints’ Kymberlee Johnson returned the favor on Bess moments later when she got the ball away on a Bulldog opportunity.

“It’s the top down, starting from the keeper out,” said Pelletier of her team’s defensive effort. “We have to play hard. Everybody has to play hard. Everybody has to pick up for each other. I think that really happened today. When that’s all clicking, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Emma Byrne made it 2-0 with 6:25 left in the first half. She got a head on a loose ball at the left side and put it past Madison goalie Savanna Kandiko. Then with 5:01 remaining, Grady got an open look and buried it.

“Our coach tells us to compose when we have a lead,” Grady said. “So we keep the ball to ourselves, but I just wanted to shoot so we could ice it.”

St. Dom’s outshot Madison 7-5 in the second half but didn’t gave the Bulldogs many open looks at the goal.

“When our defense is on it’s game, we’re going to be very stingy,” Pelletier said. “Our goalie makes the saves we need her to make. Our defense has to make the saves easier for her. That’s what has to work for us to be successful.”

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