AUBURN — Emma Gagne wasn’t even sure if her shot in the first half was going to go in, and neither were her coaches. 

“One of my coaches, (assistant) coach Rick Griffiths, was actually on the sideline and was like, ‘Aw, unlucky,’” Gagne said. “Then he saw the ball going in and was like, ‘Never mind, never mind.’”

Gagne’s looping goal near the midway point of the first half gave Poland the lead and the Knights held on for a 2-0 win over St. Dom’s on Thursday. The win is Poland’s first of the season. 

“It feels great,” Poland coach Katrina Seeley said. “It feels great to see the smiles on their face, and they’ve been working really hard this season. To be able to do what we do in practice and actually display it on the field, that really showed today.”

After a back-and-forth first 15 minutes, in which both the Saints (1-4-1) and Knights (1-6) showed life on offense with a couple of chances around the net, Poland started to push forward more and more. 

With about 22 minutes remaining in the first half, Gagne received the ball from about 30 yards out in front of goal and ripped a high-arching shot towards the top-right corner of the net. The shot dropped just over the outstretched arm of St. Dom’s goalkeeper Hannah Kenney for the game’s first goal. 

First-year St. Dom’s coach Tyler Shennett said the Saints’ effort dipped after the first few minutes of the contest, and that led to the goal. 

“The shot should never have happened, but we allowed her the time to line it up and take it from about 30 yards out,” Shennett said. “It had everything in a good shot, but no one applied pressure to force her to either take a bad shot or stop the shot.”

The Knights dominated the middle part of the first half with constant pressure. The Saints’ backline made plays and Kenney made two of her four saves in the first half to keep the Saints in the match. 

On the offensive end, St. Dom’s only registered two shots on goal that were saved by Poland goalkeeper Sophia Vallee, but many of the Saints’ chances were just-wide or just-high. 

Poland got back onto the board nine minutes into the second half to double its lead. Madison Goss found herself in the penalty box with the ball at her feet on the right side of the goal when she decided to shoot near-side into the top corner and the ball went off the tip of Kenney’s hand for a goal.

“We talked about that 1-0 game, regardless if we were up or down,” Seeley said. “It still means there’s a chance to get another goal, so we continued to work hard. We didn’t let go. I talked about it and said, ‘Let’s get to the races.’”

The rain began to come down hard in the second half, but Poland was ready for it. 

“They wanted to start the game early to get it in before the rain, but we both have to play in the rain and I think our girls did a great job of fighting through that factor,” Seeley said.

“I think we are a little used to it,” Gagne said. “Our field is usually kind of wet, but I think we adapted to it pretty well. We just did great going to the ball, making sure we had control of it.”

Poland applied more pressure, but about halfway through the second half the Saints applied their own. 

Natalie Brocke had two great breakaway chances on breakaways on nearly identical plays, but the first shot was saved and the second went wide-right. 

Poland had a shot go wide with 15 minutes left, but held a 2-0 lead that came from patience in the attack. 

“We were patient and we waited for each other,” Seeley said. “We made the right passes rather than just kicking the ball. By being patient, they were communicating more and they used a lot of communication.”

Emma Roy also had a couple of chances on breakaways for the Saints, but couldn’t convert. 

“They were able to punch right through us,” Shennett said. “We have to come back stronger, and we will.”


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