MILTON -- The Yellow Jacket offense got clicking Wednesday and nearly doubled its output of the whole season as the Milton High School (MHS) girls’ soccer team defeated Mount Abraham 3-0.
- After losing its first two games of the season, Milton has rattled off five-straight wins, all being shutouts; the Yellow Jackets sit at 5-2 on the regular season.
- Each of Milton’s wins prior to Wednesday were 1-0 victories, and the Yellow Jackets only scored one goal through their two losses.
- Wednesday was the second MHS win over the Eagles this year as the Yellow Jackets won 1-0 at Mt. Abe Oct. 10.
- Milton seniors Samantha Orest and Ana Dykeman each had a goal and an assist, classmate Avril Desautels scored a goal, and sophomore Emma Grasso tallied a helper.
- The Yellow Jackets’ last game before the playoffs is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, that being a home match against Middlebury which they defeated 1-0 Oct. 13.
How it Happened
First Half: Milton had a decent chance in the opening 15 minutes of play, but the game was mostly contained in the Yellow Jackets’ end of the field following kickoff. While MHS sophomore keeper Sara Ambrose had to pull in the ball a few times, she wasn’t overly tested and didn’t face any tough shots.
However, Ambrose needed to come up big later in the half when a well-placed take from the top-right corner of the box went towards the left post, causing the Yellow Jacket netminder to make a great, diving save to her right. That play provided some instant momentum for her team, and Milton dominated play for the final 12 minutes of the stanza.
MHS countered right away off the save and moved quickly up the field. From about 30 yards out, Dykeman played a perfect through ball between a flat Eagle defensive line into space, allowing Orest to use her speed to run on to it, take a few touches, and slide a shot past the Mt. Abe goalie into the right side of the cage.
Milton kept up the pressure in the remaining minutes of the period and had a few great opportunities. The Dykeman-Orest combo nearly converted a similar play to their goal, but Orest's blast went slightly over the crossbar for the game to remain knotted at 1-0 going to the break.
Second Half: A back-and-forth second stanza saw the Yellow Jackets being eight minutes away from securing their fifth-straight 1-0 victory, but the hosts then added a couple insurance tallies to gain some comfortable separation.
Orest carried the ball up the left side of the pitch, deep into the Mt. Abe end of the field, before crossing it into the middle of the box. That’s where Desautels met the pass and gave it a flick towards frame, sending a looping shot over the Eagle keeper for the 2-0 advantage with 8:01 on the clock.
With just over two minutes to go in the match, Milton put it away when Grasso sent a pass to Dykeman a bit over the midfield line. Dykeman made a long carry through open space before firing a shot into the left side of the net from the top of the box.
Thoughts from MHS Head Coach Shawntel Burke
What did you think about today’s game, and what were a few keys to the win?
“For the first half, I felt like we were really flat in the first 10 minutes. We really started picking it up after that. I felt like we were a little slow with our passes and connecting through the midfield. We had a talk at half, and we decided that we needed to really start depending and having confidence in everyone. And I felt like the second half was much better.
“That's our level of play, our speed of play, and I felt like we -- as a team -- really gelled and clicked. Everyone in our huddle just now said the same thing: that the second half was much better. We were working the through balls much better, we were getting people crashing the net -- which is something that we haven't done all season -- and we were just taking shots and having more confidence. I'm really happy about that.”
What did you think about Ambrose’s save that spurred your momentum at the end of the first half?
“I didn't even know where she came from, and all of a sudden, her fingers were out there. She's been really solid for us this season. We have a really young team, so we are really working on building the confidence of the sophomores because they've never played at this level. That was really a big move for us, but again, we'll get there. We're really happy with how everyone's playing, we're really happy with how we're moving the ball, and to transition the entire length of the field and get that goal was big for us.”
How does it feel to win a game that’s not a 1-0 final?
“That was fantastic. A lot of the players on the sidelines were like, ‘We can't; we have to win by more than one goal.’ And I said, ‘You know what? It'll come. We just have to rely on each other. Everybody has to do their job. Everyone has to play their part.’ And again, it's about confidence, and if they have confidence in themselves, we have that confidence, and I think that is really starting to come through.
“There's a great dynamic on the team, and I think it's really starting to come through in how we play. Again, the younger players are stepping up, and that took us a little while to get there. But we won the last five in-a-row, and I'm really happy with how they're playing.”