Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Steve Craig firstname.lastname@example.org
Even when the early season record was 2-2, Thornton Academy Coach Lori Smith could see her team had made a key improvement over recent seasons.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Emma Desrochers, Massabesic freshman: After earning a spot in the Mustangs’ potent starting lineup, Desrochers responded with two goals in a 5-0 win against Deering and both goals in a tough 2-1 win against Gorham.
Jillian Rothweiler, Falmouth senior: Scored all three goals in shutout wins against Fryeburg Academy (2-0) and Cape Elizabeth (1-0).
Morgan Karnes, Freeport sophomore: In a back-and-forth game with Yarmouth, she stopped 19 shots to keep her squad in the game until Taylor Schenker scored the winner.
Elyse Caiazzo, Cheverus senior: Versatile midfielder scored three goals in a 3-1 win against Portland as the Stags improved to 9-2.
AREA TOP FIVE
5. Thornton Academy
"Last year we had some very talented players but the consistency wasn't always there," Smith said. "This year there's been a lot more consistency, and the other great thing is seeing them be able to make adjustments to their game as needed."
One area that has needed little change is Thornton's defense.
The Golden Trojans are 8-3 and have won six of their last seven games, all by shutout. The only teams to score against Thornton are top-ranked Scarborough (2-1 loss), No. 2 Massabesic (4-3 overtime loss early in the season) and Marshwood (1-0 loss).
"All three of those games proved to them that they can play with those teams," Smith said.
Thornton is sixth in the Western Class A Heal point rankings, with a big gap on No. 7 Biddeford. Those two teams meet Tuesday. Thornton would probably need to win out and get some upset help to leapfrog the No. 4-5 combo of Cheverus and Marshwood.
"In the past it seems like we've always been the eighth seed, we win our prelim game and then we have to play the No. 1 seed," Smith said. "Now we're more focused on what we need to do to be successful."
Sophomore Grace Pickering has been the linchpin of the defense at center back, along with senior three-year varsity player Lauren Boissonnault and returning junior Dorina Sirois on her wings.
"Grace is probably my most skilled player, stick-wise. What makes her so valuable for us is she's honestly the first player I've had who can dribble out of a crowd on a 16-yard hit," said Smith, referring to the free hit a team gets when the offense hits the ball out of bounds or is called for a foul in the circle.
Thornton has started to use Pickering's skills in a limited offensive role, too. She recently was moved to the offensive penalty corner unit because of her ball-handling and solid shot.
In last Thursday's 2-0 win against Westbrook, goalie Gabrielle Capozzi made two saves. That total is a typical night, Smith said.
And it's not just because of strong defense. In large part it's because Thornton has become the "passing, possession team," Smith has been working toward since the Trojans moved to their turf field three years ago.
Offensively, the Golden Trojans have had solid balance.
Sophomore Libby Pomerleau leads in goals, senior Lauren Russell leads in assists and has scored on two penalty strokes, and Morgan Dube and Carli Legere are consistent offensive complements.
There's the word again: consistent.
"They've done a good job getting motivated for each game. Even when we feel like we've been less productive we've been able to come through. We've kind of become a team that likes to score in the second half," Smith said. "That's a sign they don't give up and they keep persevering."
AFTER SENIOR-HEAVY Falmouth pulled out a 1-0 win against longtime rival Cape Elizabeth (8-3), Yachtsmen center defender Hayley Winslow said the win was important.
Falmouth (9-2) will play in the Class A tourney for the first time this year but is playing a Class B schedule. The Yachtsmen are ranked No. 3 in Western Class A but have failed their two tests against unbeaten York and narrowly edged Class C power North Yarmouth Academy.
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