Black River’s Jazmin Beam sent a cross from the left corner flag, across the goal mouth to Riley Paul, stationed even with the far post. Paul got a good foot on the ball and sent it zipping toward the far post, past Mount St. Joseph keeper Jillian Perry and into the net. It was a boom-boom play that Perry had no chance at stopping.
The goal came near the midway point of the first half and stood up as the only score surrendered on the pitch at Abatiell Field on Saturday, lifting the Presidents past the Mounties 1-0 in Southern Vermont League girls soccer action.
The victory pushed Black River to 5-6 and temporarily into the sixth seed in the Division IV postseason tournament with one week left to play in the regular season.
“This is an important game for us; this being the last year of our school (Black River will close at the end of the school year), so we wanted to host a home playoff game,” Presidents coach Howie Paul said. “We can’t get any higher and hope we can hang on.”
There was no reason to doubt that the Mounties would come back hard at the Presidents. The last time the teams met at Dorsey Park, Black River took away a 4-0 victory. But the result is misleading since all the goals were scored in the second half.
This was indeed another kind of game.
Black River took control with the Paul goal and carried play in the first half. But the Mounties, who were playing at full strength for the first time in weeks, were not going to roll over for the Presidents.
While Black River held a statistical edge in the first half 8-5 in shots, 5-4 in saves, MSJ had a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks and that showed that the Mounties were on the attack.
But it wasn’t until the second half that the Mountie attack threw a scare into the Presidents.
With Lauren Costales and Fatima Laurent working well up front, making runs at the Black River goal, MSJ had some chances to equalize the score.
“They certainly earned their goal,” said MSJ coach Lori Patterson. “But what are we, 1-11 or something like that, we played hard for 80 minutes and had opportunities. These girls like each other and trust each other and they really know what it is to be a team.”
Black River opened the second half with a free kick from about 20 yards out with no result and then was awarded a corner kick a minute later, but the Mountie defense steered everything away.
Then Costales was sent in by Sienna Diezel’s through pass and got off a soft shot that was easily handled by President keeper Hailey Pierce. It was a start for the Mounties.
Still Black River responded with Paul and Jordan Devereux volleying on the Mountie goal.
The action went back and forth with Black River netting a good chance on its fourth corner kick, but Perry was there to stop the shot.
MSJ got tremendous defensive play from sweeper Tianna Gallipo, who was supported well by Cindy Carranza in the back.
As the action heated up, there was a spate of injuries on both sides as the girls played hard and physical.
During the final five minutes of regulation, MSJ had the better chances with Gallipo sending a free kick on goal. The result was back-to-back corner kicks that put the pressure on the Presidents.
In the final minute Lucy Gallo put up a twisting shot but the Presidents were able to clear the zone and survive with the victory.
“That wasn’t an easy one,” Howie Paul said. “MSJ played really well, they played with more fire than the last time and that kind of surprised us. I also think that because of the score (from the last time we played them) we might have taken a little lightly. Their added fire made us step up defensively and that was good.”
Perry recorded 10 saves for the Mounties, who play a makeup at Otter Valley Monday, while Pierce stopped all eight shots she faced for the shutout. Black River is at Long Trail on Wednesday.