PRESQUE ISLE —- Soccer is a game where a team can have a lot of offensive opportunities, but get stymied by bad luck, or a red-hot goalkeeper.
Fortunately for the Washburn girls, goalkeeper Rayah Saucier was the beneficiary of a little bit of luck and her own outstanding play Saturday afternoon.
Saucier played a gutsy second half after sitting out most of the first after injuring her hip in a collision and Rebecca Campbell’s first-half goal stood up as the visiting Beavers earned a 1-0 victory over Ashland in a Class D matchup at the Johnson Complex.
The two teams played a girls-boys doubleheader, and the Washburn boys completed the sweep by winning 4-1.
In the girls game, Saucier was injured 10 minutes into the match when an onrushing Kayla Cote collided with the Beavers’ sophomore in an attempt to get a shot off.
“I went out for the ball, but she kind of just nailed me,” said Saucier. “There was a lot of pain.”
More importantly, Saucier held onto the ball, and the game stayed scoreless.
Rayah’s sister, Meaghan Saucier, played the remainder of the opening half in goal.
Washburn, which improved to 5-1 on the young season, got on the board at the 22:21 mark, as senior forward Campbell won a 50-50 ball just outside the penalty area, outmaneuvered a Hornet defender and beat Ashland ’keeper Macie Bellanceau to the far post.
The Beavers’ defense then held off relentless Ashland pressure in the second half, with Saucier thwarting a couple of direct kicks in the final 40 minutes while another by the Hornets’ Whitney Donovan sailed just over the goal in the final seconds.
Saucier was still a tad sore as she played out the second half, but she wanted to be there for her teammates.
“It was painful still, but I had to suck it up,” she said.
The Beavers’ back line, anchored by backs Hillary Jackson and Nicole Olson and midfielders Meghan Saucier, Carmen Bragg and Sara Sjoberg, did a solid job of controlling the midfield and keeping Ashland’s attackers on the wings.
“Our defense is pretty strong this year, we have a lot of new freshmen that came up that are helping out a lot,” said Sjoberg, one of five seniors for coach Marcie Barbarula’s Beavers.
Coach Peter Belskis’ Hornets (1-1) did have their chances, but Ashland is quite young this fall with 11 freshmen and sophomores on the 18-player roster, and Ashland simply struggled to finish whatever scoring opportunities it had.
“When we’re in midseason form, we’ll make those,” he said. “Right now it’s our second game, that’s their sixth. That’s the difference right there. Not to say that we shouldn’t put some of those in as well, but I think that was the difference.”
Another thing was Donovan’s direct kick late in the game, which she rushed a little bit when she had plenty of time to set the ball and get a shot off.
“Again, that’s early-season situational things that the kids are going to hurry on,” said Belskis. Bellanceau had seven saves for Ashland.
Washburn has struggled against perennial Class D contender Ashland over the years, so the Beavers, who feel that they can be a championship chaser, were pleased.
“We’ve always struggled (against Ashland) before, we’ve always tried to beat them, and we actually did it, so it feels pretty good,” said Meaghan Saucier.
The shots at goal were even at 15 apiece, with Meaghan Saucier collecting two saves.
In the boys’ game, the visiting Beavers dominated from start to finish, with Jordan McLaughlin registering two goals in the first four minutes to give Washburn (4-1) the decisive edge.
McLaughlin’s first goal came when he was left unmarked to the left of the net, and when Ashland ’keeper J.J. D’Ozier came out too far, Mitchell Worcester fed his open teammate and McLaughlin easily one-touched the ball home.
That duo struck again 4:37 into the contest, with Worcester sending a perfect cross to McLaughlin, who headed the ball past a helpless D’Ozier.
Worcester scored later in the half, with Connor Fitzpatrick earning the assist, to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Ashland (0-2) finally scored with 13:58 left in the half, with Kenny Tarr converting a Royce MacDonald pass.
McLaughlin scored his final goal on a breakaway with 5 minutes remaining in the second half, with Worcester once again setting him up.
Even though the Beavers controlled the match throughout, D’Ozier kept his team in the game with several gems, but his teammates couldn’t generate much of a counterattack.
D’Ozier came up with 12 saves on 26 shots for the Hornets while Zach Davis saved four of 10 shots for Washburn.