Alicen Burnham of Monmouth/Winthrop shoots through Oak Hill defenders Peighton Theriault, left, Audrey Dillman and Kenzie Parker in Wales on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

WALES — Fall athletes would do well to follow Monmouth/Winthrop senior striker Alicen Burnham’s blueprint for success in Thursday’s Mountain Valley Conference soccer game against Oak Hill.

The Raiders did a good job of limiting the Mustangs’ opportunities, but Burnham made the most of the few she had, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win.

Burnham scored once in each half for her first two goals of the season and senior goalkeeper Emma Johnson stopped six shots to secure her second shutout in as many games and help the Mustangs improve to 2-0.

Burnham, who dished out two assists in the Mustangs’ 3-0 win over Hall-Dale in their co-op debut last week, found the open left corner a little more than five minutes into the first half and again midway through the second half.

“We had some really good give-and-gos with my midfield and my other wing forwards up top,” Burnham said. “We really capitalized on any chance we got. We didn’t have many chances, and I’m very fortunate that I got to capitalize on those two.”

Monmouth/Winthrop outshot Oak Hill, 16-8, and would have had more to show for it if not for some excellent work by Raiders netminder Paige Gonya (13 saves).

The Raiders started out a little flat-footed for their Senior Day game, but were much more aggressive after the first sanitization break 20 minutes into the first half.

“It took us a little while to wake up,” Oak Hill coach Jeremy Young said. “We just didn’t simply didn’t arrive at the field when we needed to (for the first goal) and then we had a mental lapse on the second. But I was really pleased with the way we were passing, really pleased with the style of play we have. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of it but we were playing the way we want to play.”

“We took advantage of the shots we got,” Mustangs coach Gary Trafton said. “They beat us to the ball all day long. I’ve got the stats to show the girls tomorrow. They’ll see that they beat us to the ball. … They just controlled with pass, pass, pass.”

Oak Hill had a chance for the equalizer after a hand ball set up a free kick, but senior Anna Beach’s shot went wide of the right post.

Early in the second half, Peighton Theriault forced a turnover near midfield to get the Raiders off-and-running for another good chance, but Johnson stopped junior Gabby Chessie from nearly point-blank range from about 15 yards out to maintain the lead.

Freshman Izzy Hamann battled out of the right corner to set up Burnham on the insurance goal.

“She’s just getting into the swing of things, but she gave me a really great cross and I just managed to step right in front of the defender and slot it in,” Burnham said. “We didn’t get many shots. I’m very proud of the team today.”

“We came out with a win against Hall-Dale but we really had to work for it and today I think we improved from before,” Burnham said. “We got some more give-and-gos from the corner, started to incorporate our midfield with the forwards and really integrate everything together instead of booting the ball and chasing.”

Winthrop/Monmouth would have had a third goal if not for Gonya’s quick feet and hands stopping a shot and then the rebound from about 10 feet out.

“I’d take Paige any day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Young said. “She leads in the back. She’s vocal. She’s always working on her craft and gets to balls that I don’t think a high school goalkeeper even has a right to try and get to. Her reflexes are improving, as is her ability to recover.”

“That two-save situation was really impressive. That’s not uncommon for her. I just hope she gets to showcase it more,” Young said.

The Raiders left the field hoping the game wouldn’t be their last, since state officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 infection rates in Androscoggin County and could put a halt to high school athletics in the county on Friday.

“We moved up our senior game from Saturday because we weren’t sure,” Young said. “We’re grateful we got to play and grateful we got to have it for the seniors. It would be heartbreaking if our season gets cut shorter than it already is. The senior group we have this year has worked for four years to earn an opportunity to play hard and be leaders.”

A yellow designation for Androscoggin County would impact Monmouth/Winthrop’s schedule, too.

“We worked so hard ever since the summer, really trying to get in any minute we can,” Burnham said. “We had everybody show up to voluntary practices, which I’m super happy about. We’ve all put in the work and I feel like with each game we play, we’re getting better and better. We’re a very young team this year but I feel like it’s really paying off, giving everything we have in practice and doing everything we can to have the best season we can with the circumstances.”

Alicen Burnham, center, of Monmouth/Winthrop competes for the ball with Lexie Finn, left, and Audrey Dillman of Oak Hill High School in Wales on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Gabby Chessie, left, of Oak Hill High School competes for the ball with Kerstin Paradis of Monmouth/Winthrop in Wales on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Averie Silva of Monmouth/Winthrop directs her teammates while dribbling past Anna Beach of Oak Hill High School on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Oak Hill High School goalkeeper Paige Gonya makes a save during Thursday’s game against Monmouth/Winthrop in Wales. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Izzy Hamann of Monmouth/Winthrop attempts to keep the ball inbounds during Thursday’s game against Oak Hill High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Evelyn Guimond, left, of Monmouth/Winthrop competes for the ball with Peyton Gonya of Oak Hill High School in Wales on Thursday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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