AUBURN — Saint Dominic Academy girls’ soccer probably wasn’t supposed to be this good, this soon.

Sure, the Saints have a recent winning tradition. And they have speed to burn and an awareness of one another that is apparent from the moment they step on the field. But when your roster of 21 players is dominated by 12 freshmen and six sophomores, the idea of being unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in Class C South is a daydream.

It’s still reality, however, after the Saints’ 2-1 MVC win Tuesday over Oak Hill.

First-year players scored both goals for St. Dom’s (3-0-1). Alexandra Hammerton pulled the Saints even with 34:05 remaining, only 33 seconds after Brittany Marquis put Oak Hill (2-2) on the board.

Kristina Cornelio chalked up the game-winner with 16:48 left.

“We are definitely exceeding my expectations,” St. Dom’s coach Alicia Pelletier said. “I never thought we would be down, but I thought it was going to be hard. Not having that senior leadership, I thought closer games we might not be able to figure out how to come back.”


Senior midfielder Tia Rotolico is the only returning full-time starter with experience. Her through-ball set up Cornelio’s go-ahead goal.

Hannah Phelan, a junior, anchored the defense along with sophomore Payton Winslow and freshman Christine Chasse in front of another ninth-grader, Victoria Sasse, who made six of her nine saves in the second half.

“It’s kind of crazy, because when I was a freshman I was one of only two freshmen. Now we’re all made of freshmen,” Rotolico said. “I think once we start playing we get focused. It takes us a little bit to settle down and get into the swing of things, but once we get focused I think we know what we need to do and get it done.”

St. Dom’s dominated the first-half opportunities but couldn’t get on the board.

An inadvertent hand ball probably cost the Saints a goal on the rebound after Avery Lutrzykowski rang the crossbar from 25 yards.

The Raiders’ Julia Ahlberg swiped away another point-bank bid off the foot of Cornelio after Anna Dodge (10 saves) made a diving denial of Lutrzykowski with 7:30 left.


“By not cashing in, I think we got a little down at the end of the first half,” Pelletier said. “We just needed to come back and figure out how to score, because we were having trouble with that and getting down on ourselves a little bit because of that.”

Oak Hill applied most of the pressure in the first five minutes after intermission and made it pay off by pouncing on a short goal kick.

Marquis fought off the Saints’ defender and deposited the ball from just inside the 18 for the lead.

“We have very fast forwards, and our defense is pretty solid,” Oak Hill coach Nicole Camire said. “We needed to win more 50-50 balls to get our offense going.”

Rileigh Stebbins’ free kick from 35 yards away caught the Raiders off balance and set up Hammerton for the quick equalizer.

The Saints pulled ahead in similar fashion, when Rotolico saw a seam up the middle and placed the ball to a waiting Cornelio.


“I think it’s a trend with us,” Rotolico said of the second-half rally. “Once we know what we need to do, it gives us momentum. We like to send a pass and somebody will always be there to run onto it.”

Hannah Nadeau, Kierra Rolston and Kasey Doyle were relentless in front of Dodge down the stretch, keeping the Raiders in it.

Rylea Mae Swan got behind the defense to start one Raiders’ run, forcing two saves from Sasse in quick succession. The Raiders pulled the trigger on other odd-numbered rushes just a split second too soon.

“There were a couple of shots there when our forwards shot a little too early. I’m sure they’re thinking about it right now,” Camire said. “We’ve been in every game. I’m proud of how they’re playing. Always going to ask more of them. I think the issue right now is just being consistently urgent on the field.”

After previous wins over Hall-Dale and Mountain Valley and a tie with Madison, there are no complaints from the St. Dom’s camp.

“Everybody top to bottom and stepped up and filled a position that maybe they didn’t play last year,” Pelletier said. “Every single game we have shown more maturity than would expect at this time of year, and I’m very enthusiastic about the rest of the season with that maturity.”

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