MILTON — A pair of second-half goals from Tatum Shappy prevented a disaster as Milton held on for a closer-than-anticipated 2-1 victory over Mt. Abraham last Thursday.
Shappy sandwiched two goals — both begun with crosses from Carlie Reen that Taylor Quintin flicked to Shappy — around a Mt. Abe (3-5) equalizer late in the second half to help Milton (7-1) survive the stubborn Eagles.
The Yellowjackets extended their winning streak to five games and have allowed just two goals in that span.
“It was just a strange game because I think we were doing a lot of things right, we just were not finding that last touch or mis-hitting a shot,” Milton coach Cory Payson said.
“Their keeper played a great game, she did a really nice job,” Payson added. “So we just kept plugging away and got one in.”
All three of last Thursday’s goals came in a span of fewer than four minutes, beginning with less than 13 minutes to go in regulation.
Some poor luck on a pair of late crosses from Shappy in the first half and 12 saves in a phenomenal performance by Eagle goalkeeper Genysis Berube kept Milton in a scoreless deadlock despite almost the entire game being played in the Eagles’ end.
Reen almost scored twice off Milton corner kicks in the first three minutes of the second half, but her first attempt was thwarted by a diving save and the second blocked by a defender. Shappy led Quintin into the box nine minutes into the second, but Berube raced out to clear the ball before Quintin could get a shot off.
The Yellowjackets finally broke through with 12:23 left. Reen charged down the left side and sent a ball toward the middle. An awkward hop forced Quintin to get creative in avoiding a handball, and in doing so she deflected the ball into a perfect spot to allow Shappy time to compose a shot. The sophomore didn’t disappoint, placing a strike calmly into the lower-left corner for a 1-0 lead.
Before the cheers subsided, Mt. Abraham had raced to the other end and made the most of its first shot of the second half, with Lauren Gibson sneaking in an equalizer with 10:17 to go and leaving the Milton bench and fans in disbelief.
Milton’s response was exactly what Payson hoped for.
Wasting no time (1:37, to be exact), the Yellowjackets connected again in strikingly similar fashion to their first goal. Reen down the left side, centering ball, flick of the head from Quintin into the box for Shappy, who once more calmly poked a shot to Berube’s right to make it 2-1 game with 8:40 to go.
“It was a good learning experience — it’s OK, things happen, and we can move on,” Payson said of his team conceding the late equalizer.
“I was kind of happy to see how they responded, because it’s been awhile since we’ve been tied or down late in the game, and they came right back and got a goal,” he continued. “So it didn’t really affect them too much, and it was nice to see how they responded.”
Though she didn’t technically hit the score sheet with a deserved assist (or two) last Thursday, Reen’s impact on the game was significant. Her crosses led to both Yellowjacket goals and Payson said Reen has made a giant leap during her senior year to help Milton in a major way.
“She’s been doing that all year,” Payson said. We’ve probably missed some that we should have put in throughout the course of the season, but she’s been really consistent.”
Up next for Milton is another struggling team, 1-6 Missisquoi. While Milton will hope for a more comfortable win, last Thursday proved the Yellowjackets are formidable in all situations.