Assistant Sports Editor
BENNINGTON -- If speed kills, then the Mount Anthony Union High School girls soccer team might just be the deadliest team in the state of Vermont.
In the team's 2013 season opener, the Patriots used their speed in both halves of the field to top the Springfield Cosmos 3-0 in the opening round of the Lady Patriot Classic.
"It [speed] is a great weapon to have," Patriots coach Mark Boudreau said. "And we have it all over the field."
It took the Patriots a little while to get into the flow of the game, but once the team started to link up in the midfield, it was only a matter of time until the Patriots finally got on the board.
Grace Page was the Patriot who scored first, as the midfielder was able to chase down a ball from Emily Hunt before taking a touch then slotting the ball home low and to the left with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.
It was a ball that looked to be falling to Kate Goodell, the striker for the Patriots. But the ball went beyond the reach of her foot. Bouncing in no man's land, it was a foot race to see who would get there first.
that is when Page's speed came in handy.
A state champion in the 400-meter dash, Page rushed onto the ball before a Springfield defender could close down. After taking a touch, her shot went right into the back of the net.
"I saw the opportunity and I just sprinted down and cut back," Page said. "Earlier, we had seen the goalie not stop a lot of shots so I just took the shot and scored."
Boudreau said he was impressed with the poise of the sophomore.
"It is hard to describe the composure of her [Page]," Boudreau said. "That was probably one of the better finishes I have seen in a couple of years."
The goal marked the end of a solid first half for the Patriots. Goodell saw several opportunities in the half, but was unable to finish on them. But even with the lack of goals, the threat was still there.
The Patriots defense also did well in the first half to not let Springfield on the board. Goalie Julie Elwell made back-to-back saves from distance shots to keep the Cosmos off the board.
"Our defense was fantastic and the speed helps," Boudreau said. "They did a much better job than I gave them credit for."
But going into the half, the Patriots could sense the need for a second goal.
"I told the girls at halftime, I was confident with the product they were putting out there but one goal was not going to be enough."
At the start of the second half, the Cosmos did pile on the pressure. With Alexis Wright coming into the Patriots goal for the second half, she was immediately tested by two shots from Springfield's Chelsea McAllister, but Wright was able to make one save while watching the second shot go over her crossbar.
But the second goal would come shortly after.
This time, Keira Goodell laid off a beautiful through ball to Calli Towslee in the center of the pitch. Towslee, who was right at the top of the penalty area, sized up her options before opening up her left foot to sidefoot the ball past the keeper. The goal came seven minutes into the second half.
"They [Springfield] had the better second half to start with," Boudreau said. "They were pressuring, but the one extra goal took the wind out of them."
From there, the Patriots relied on defensive speed to help keep the Cosmos off of the board.
The Cosmos tried to push forward as best as they could, moving to just three defenders at the back, the team tried to keep pressing forward. But the defense of Mount Anthony was able to close down on any opportunity the Cosmos had, keeping the opposing team to speculative shots from distance that did little to threaten Wright in goal.
"Our defense tonight, they have closing speed," Boudreau said.
The midfield of Towslee, Page, Hunt, and Keira Goodell also helped to control the flow of the game. When either of the four received the ball, they slowed down to wait for players to come up in support, then laid off balls to the wings to keep the offense moving.
"We talk a lot out there," Page said. "We always talk, we look for the corner, play to the corner, then put crosses in."
The Cosmos best chance of the second half came with about 15 minutes left.
Once again, McAllister was trying to find enough space to get one-on-one with the keeper. When she was teed up with a pass that put her through onto goal, McAllister looked up to try and size up where Wright would be.
Only, Wright was right on top of her. Coming way off of her line, Wright slid on the ground and gobbled the ball up, ending the threat.
Shortly after, the Patriots had another opportunity to add to the lead.
This time, Kate Goodell was able to wiggle free on the right flank. Cutting in, she let loose with a shot that was deflected by the Springfield keeper and put back into play. Keira ended up on the rebound but was only able to put her shot right at the goalie.
But Kate would atone for the play just moment later. Heading the ball up and over a defender, Goodell turned and was in on goal, tucking the ball away for the 3-0 lead.
The Patriots move on to the final of the Lady Patriot Classic on Saturday, when they play Burr and Burton Academy at 7 p.m.