ASHLAND, Maine — Ashland High School’s Ally Beaulier is a striker, but girls soccer coach Pete Belskis decided to move the senior back to defense to try to shut down the high-scoring Washburn High School Beavers on Monday.
The move worked as Ashland stunned the previously unbeaten Beavers 4-0.
Washburn, the defending Eastern Maine Class D champs, had outscored its opponents 53-6 en route to its 7-0 start.
Ashland is now 5-0.
“It was amazing what she was able to do. She marked (10-goal scorer) Joan Overman in the first half and (20-goal scorer) Mackenzie Worcester in the second half,” said Belskis. “Ally made our chemistry better in the back. It was a better unit.”
Belskis changed his formation to ensure he had plenty of players goal-side in the middle of the field, forcing the Beavers to attack the flanks where they aren’t as dangerous.
And he said he stressed that they not let any of the Washburn strikers get behind the defense.
“We made sure we kept the shooters in front of us. If you let them get behind you, they’ll put the ball in the net because they are so athletic and so quick. The girls did a great job of doubling up [or double-teaming the ball possessor] when we could,” added Belskis.
“We made sure our midfielders were back. We wanted to keep Washburn at long range. And we counter-attacked off that. Fortunately, we were able to get a couple of breaks early. We converted a penalty kick [by freshman Cassidy Pelletier] and got up 2-0. You don’t want to get behind them,” said Belskis.
Another key matchup was Ashland sophomore Laura Sturgeon marking 11-goal scorer Carsyn Koch.
“Carsyn had 10 shots but didn’t score. That was critical,” said Belskis.
The other vital components to the victory were senior goalkeeper Macie Bellanceau, who made 18 saves on 27 shots, and sophomore center back Caitlin Paradis.
“Macie made a couple of really good saves to keep them at bay and keep us ahead,” said Belskis, whose team was outshot 27-10.
“Caitlin played a super game as did all of our backs. She shut down Mackenzie Worcester and forced her to give up the ball,” said Belskis.
Belskis and his Hornets have had success against Washburn in recent years.
They were the only team to beat Washburn during the regular season last year, 3-2 in Washburn.
“They’re our rivals. The girls get up for them. We have matched up pretty well with them the past couple of years,” said Belskis.
The two schools are only 18 miles apart, he said.
Belskis feels his young team is progressing nicely. They have just three seniors on the roster along with 12 freshmen and sophomores.
“We’ve been building this team for a couple of years, and they’re starting to believe in themselves,” he said.
Belskis’ Hornets may not be as explosive as Washburn but they are stingy, allowing only six goals in five games while scoring 19.
“I stress defense first … we build from the goal out,” said the 61-year-old Belskis, who is in his eighth year as the girls coach after coaching the boys soccer team for 27 years and leading the boys to four regional titles and one state title.
But he also has some girls who can put the ball in the net.
Sophomore left wing Savannah Flint was a 20-goal scorer a year ago and has “five of six” this season.
Junior Marissa Chasse, a center striker, had a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Van Buren. She and Flint also had a goal against Washburn.
Pelletier scored with a free kick after converting the penalty kick, giving her three goals on the season.
And Ashland has an outstanding sophomore center half in LeAnn McNally.
“She’s very talented. She has a lot of good skills,” said Belskis.
If there was one negative aspect of the victory, Belskis quipped “we may have awakened the sleeping giant.
“But better us than anybody else,” he added.
Belskis has ties to Washburn as his daughter, Diana Belskis Trams, is the girls basketball coach at Washburn and they captured the state D title this past season. Belskis helped out with the team.