The Dexter girls soccer team opened the season with a 5-4 loss at Searsport with a freshman goalie who was replacing the graduated Alison Pease.
Junior striker Tasha Pratt had been considered for the position but told third-year coach Jody Grant she preferred to play up front.
“After the Searsport game, she told me she would be willing to be the goalie because she felt it was best for the team,” said Grant. He was impressed with Pratt’s “selflessness.”
And Pratt has certainly come through for the Tigers.
Dexter is 6-0-2 in its last eight games, and Pratt has notched five shutouts and allowed only four goals. She is currently working on a string of three straight shutouts.
Two of the goals Pratt allowed came in a 2-2 overtime tie against undefeated Orono (8-0-1), which is averaging 4.8 goals per game.
“She kept us in that game. They controlled most of the play. She made some great saves,” said Grant. “She is very athletic. She’s a point guard on the basketball team. She isn’t big, but she’s pretty tough. She has played very well.”
According to Grant, the Dexter girls soccer team is in the midst of a “resurgence.”
Two years ago, the Tigers were the seventh seed but were upset by No. 10 Piscataquis Community High School in a preliminary game. The Tigers were the only team to blemish the record of state Class C champ Central of Corinth as they tied the Red Devils, who finished at 17-0-1.
A year ago, the eighth-seeded Tigers won their preliminary game and ventured to Fort Kent to play the top-ranked Warriors. Dexter led 2-0 at the half, but eventual Eastern C titlist team rallied in the second half to post a 3-2 triumph.
Grant said the Tigers gained valuable experience playing against Fort Kent.
“A lot of these players played in that game. We had only four seniors last year,” he said.
The Tigers have received balanced scoring this season.
“We’ve had nine different goal-scorers,” pointed out Grant.
Junior wing Abbey Jordan leads the Tigers with seven goals, and junior striker Michaela White has scored six times.
White was the team’s leading scorer the past two years, tallying a total of 23 goals through her first two seasons.
Senior center-midfielder Meredith Roderka, considered the team’s best-conditioned athlete by Grant, and junior Shayna Fogg have each scored four goals.
“Shayna is the fastest player I’ve ever coached,” said Grant. “And this is only her second year playing soccer. She never played in middle school.”
Senior striker Bobbie-Lynn Chambers has three goals.
Joining Roderka in the midfield have been junior Dana Webber, sophomore Skyler Theodore and senior Brookie Chambers — Bobbie-Lynn’s twin sister.
Second team all-conference sweeper Abbie Melvin, a senior, anchors the defense and is considered one of the top defenders in the Penobscot Valley Conference by Grant. Seniors MacKenzie McKusick and Danielle Whitten and junior Christine May give the backline an added veteran presence.
Junior Macie Melvin, a midfielder-striker, will give the Tigers a boost when she returns next week. She broke her foot during the preseason.
Grant, who will begin his 11th year as the girls basketball coach this fall and has several two- and three-sport athletes on his team, said David Wilks, a former Dexter player, is the “brains behind the operation” and has been invaluable as his assistant coach.
“He has a tremendous soccer background,” said Grant.
The Dexter girls team has outscored their opponents 27-9.