Lady Cougar booters upset in prelim
DIXFIELD -- There was several anxious moments when the Dirigo team appeared to be on the verge of making things happen, but it never materialized in a girls’ soccer Western Class C preliminary playoff game.
There was several chnanges to break through, however, No. 11 Madison refused to give in and Kayla Booker provided the difference by scoring with 13:17 left in the second half and it held up as the sixth-ranked Lady Cougars were upset 1-0.
A week earlier, Dirigo had shut out Madison in a Mountain Valley Conference regular season finale.
The rematch was under the lights at Harlow Park. The game was moved back to Thursday, in lieu of the impending rain. The teams was determined, but the respective goalies, Dirigo's Natasha Deroche and Savanna Kandiko of Madison, each recorded 11 saves to hold down the fort.
Still, it required an all-around effort by the Dirigo defense, led by Kayla Gaudin, who dropped back to sweeper and together with Gretchen Bradbury was able to clear several balls out, with booming kicks. The Cougars had to adjust their rotation with Bryce Parent and Ambyr Wilson because senior Sam Morse was sidelined.
Dirigo had regained possession of the ball and midfielder Destiny Newton advanced a leading pass to Natalie Bolduc, but Kandiko rushed out to grab the ball. Madison quickly counter-attacked and Booker dribbled down on the right side. Teammate Kristen Wood was set up in the box, but Booker's shot caromed off a Cougar defender and was high, eluding Deroche's outstretched arms, just inside the right post and into the net.
"Madison stepped it up in the second half," said Dirigo coach Art Chamberlin, who is stepping down from coaching the soccer program following two decades. "They came back tough and we used the same starters and subs."
Bolduc encountered tough going because she was showed by Shelby Cutten throughout the game, but a leading pass by Megan Bradbury resulted in a free kick. Gaudin booted it high toward the net, but Kandiko craddled it. Kaitlyn Morang was on the door step, but her shot went wide left, while shots by Sabrina Daoud and Lindsy Crutchfield failed to get past the Madison defenders.
There were several keys that each team needed to be aware of, including the Bulldogs staying marked-up on Dirigo players, communication, anticipation and passing.