ORONO, Maine — The nine sophomores on the Orono girls soccer roster are gaining valuable experience with every match.
The Red Riots went into Tuesday’s Class C showdown with George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill riding a wave of momentum after defeating top-ranked Fort Kent over the weekend.
Orono’s back line of Riley Mahan, Lauren Dwyer and Julie Normand plus goalkeeper Elizabeth Fox all played instrumental roles in keeping the high-scoring Eagles off the board as the Riots earned a hard-fought, 0-0 double-overtime tie at the high school field.
The match was quite the turnaround from the first meeting between the teams, a 4-1 GSA victory in Blue Hill.
“It feels good to tie them because they probably came in here thinking they were going to get an easy game,” said Mahan. “Tying them is a really good boost in our confidence as a team.”
Orono is now 5-2-3 and GSA 8-1-1.
The Riots’ backs did an exceptional job of marking the Eagles’ attackers, in particular the dangerous Alida Peake, who didn’t get too many wide-open shots at the net.
“We were just trying to contain them and give them not enough room for good shots,” Mahan said.
Both teams had chances to get on the board with direct kicks in regulation, while the Riots had a great chance near the end of regulation and in the second overtime.
Alex Crocker sent a corner kick into the penalty area in the final minutes of the second half, but the ball was headed just over the crossbar.
“I thought there was plenty of action,” Orono coach Cid Dyjak said. “I was certainly pleased with our improvement.”
The Riots’ scoring chance near the end of the second over-time was the best generated by either side in the extra periods.
With two Orono attackers bearing down on her just out-side the goalmouth in the final minute, GSA netminder Hannah van der Eb came out and smothered the ball to preserve the deadlock.
The Riots’ backs effectively shut down GSA’s crossing attack, as a number of balls they tried to serve into the penalty area were either cleared out or sailed toward the end line.
“George Stevens does that probably better than anyone in our class,” Dyjak said. “Our backs were ready for it a little bit.”
Orono’s midfielders did a solid job winning 50-50 balls while keeping the ball on the ground, thus not allowing GSA’s speedy attackers to get a running game going.
“Our midfielders did a real good job today of coming back and covering for us, which is good,” Dwyer said.
“Nice, quick short passes on the ground instead of balls in the air really helped us out.”
Having come in seeded fourth in the Heal Point standings, right behind GSA in third, the Riots certainly picked up more valuable points, which are crucial as the season heads into the homestretch.
“We’ve made a lot of improvement [since the first game],” Dwyer said.
Fox came up with four saves on 14 shots for Orono.
Van der Eb finished with six saves on nine shots for GSA.