BENNINGTON >> Mount Anthony sophomore Catherine Worthington made her first varsity goal a memorable one on Saturday in the girls soccer team's opener.
In her first varsity game, Worthington made a strong run on a through ball and put it past the Essex goalie in the 17th minute. Then the defense made it hold up in a 1-0 victory over the Hornets at Spinelli Field.
"That's why she'll play that point a lot," said Mount Anthony coach Mark Boudreau. "She's young but she's strong, a great athlete, and she can play composed. Most of her shots are on point. She had a firm shot, got a piece of the keeper's hand and because she can strike it well, it finds the back of the net. We expect a lot from her."
The tentativeness of the early season was apparent in the first 15 minutes as each team had a couple of chances but nothing of substance until Worthington's goal. On the play, MAU goalie Erika McCarthy booted a tremendous goal kick nearly to midfield. The ball bounced high up and over the Essex defender and to Worthington, who buried it for the lead.
"Erika made a save, kicked the ball as far as she does, as usual," Worthington said. "[The ball] bounced and I got a head on it to create some space, then dribbled up and shot it and thankfully it went in."
The Patriots had a handful of chances to double the lead, most notably with 15 minutes left in the half as Essex goalie Frankie Martin came off to make a save on a loose ball. It got away from the sophomore keeper, but a MAU shot attempt was knocked away off the goal line at the last second to keep it 1-0.
Essex came back with a similar play that nearly tied the game near the end of the half. McCarthy was caught off her line and the ball found its way toward the MAU goal. A last-second effort from Ally White proved fruitful as she booted the ball away from danger.
"They gave everything that they had, we were actually short 3 starters, so a lot were playing in spots or combos they weren't sure about," Boudreau said. "They just worked hard, it was all based on that. [Essex could have] had three goals, she turned all three away."
In the second half, MAU almost found the back of the Hornet net with 30 minutes remaining, but a shot in a 1-on-1 situation, the shot was high over the crossbar. Essex continued to search for the equalizer, but the Patriot defense was up to the task, with a pair of kick saves by Kaidin Gauthier and McCarthy to keep them off the board.
McCarthy had eight saves on the afternoon.
"We expected her to make the save, but when she dropped [the ball], it made it more intense," Worthington said. "It was the save of the game, basically."
Pushing up in the final minutes, Essex had one last gasp. With 37 seconds left, a Hornet split the defense and secured a through ball, but to the delight of the Patriot bench, the sideline referee had his flag up for an offside.
MAU hosts Springfield next in the Lady Patriot Classic on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"Starting with a win is big, it'll help us later on and to get one against a Northern team will help our standing," Worthington said.