Friday, December 6, 2013
SACO – Gorham's first corner kick, barely 10 minutes into a Western Class A quarterfinal girls' soccer game, turned out to be its last.
Lauren Stiles of Gorham, left, heads the ball away from Tori Daigle of Thornton Academy during their Western Class A quarterfinal Tuesday. Thornton advanced with a 2-0 victory at Saco.
Photos by Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer
Emily Richard, the goalkeeper for a Thornton Academy team that has 10 shutouts this season, knocks a first-half Gorham shot over the crossbar.
Shannon Foley booted the ball toward the far post, about 6 yards in front. Cady Houghton leaped and deflected the ball with her head, but wide.
"It was dangerous," Thornton Academy Coach Chris Kohl said. "That was what we talked about. We can't give them corners. We have to be smart in the back and not give them free kicks because they're very dangerous on those set pieces."
In the end, second-seeded Thornton advanced to the regional semifinals with a 2-0 victory over No. 7 Gorham at Hill Stadium.
Tori Daigle set up both goals, feeding Katherine Gillespie two minutes before halftime for a shot near the top of the penalty box, then crossing to Haley DaGraca on a bang-bang play with 14 minutes left in the game.
The unbeaten Golden Trojans (15-0), with a smart and stingy defense posting their 10th shutout of the season, will be home for the semifinals Saturday against the winner of Wednesday's game between third-seeded Scarborough (12-1-1) and sixth-ranked Sanford (11-3-1).
Gorham (12-4) actually held a 10-9 advantage in shots, but the only tough save for Thornton keeper Emily Richard came with three minutes left on a blast from Erin Smith.
Richard managed to get her hands on the ball and pop it into the air before catching the rebound.
"It was one of the first real shots I had," Richard said, "so I was tested."
Until that point, Thornton's fullbacks swept aside nearly every threat, and usually to the sides rather than the rear. Katelyn Pierson, Sam Schildroth, Allie Pettaway and Kaitlyn Couture held down the fort for Thornton, with Allison Coburn, Carly McKenna, Katie Senechal and Erin Tangney seeing considerable action as Kohl kept everyone fresh.
"We have really fast backs so we're able to get to the ball first a lot of times," Richard said. "We're able to kick it out at the sideline rather than have unlucky deflections off the end line."
Unluckiest of all was Folan, the center midfielder for Gorham. Only two minutes after that early corner kick, she suffered an apparent broken nose in a collision with Gillespie and spent the rest of the night on the Gorham bench holding a bag of ice.
"It was a header, and I was going backward and she was coming forward," Gillespie said. "The back of my head just hit her face. I didn't get a chance to (apologize) but I feel so bad for it."
Much of Gorham's offense goes through Folan, particularly on restarts.
"She's been our key on corners and direct kicks," said Gorham Coach Jeanne Zarrilli. "She's a really nice distributor, a really nice playmaker, so yeah, that was hard."
Gorham lost another player late in the second half when Jessica Rexrode, as part of the wall on a direct kick, took a blast off the side of her face. Earlier, Thornton's Couture had to leave the game after a hard-hit ball bloodied her ear.
"It was a tough opening-round game for us," Kohl said. "This should have been a Western Maine semi or final. They're a quality program."
Indeed, only once this season had Thornton been held to fewer than three goals, in a 1-0 victory over Scarborough. The past five games Thornton owns a 26-0 scoring advantage.
"I pointed out (the shot totals) to my kids because I wanted them to be proud of the 10 shots we took against (Thornton's) nine," Zarrilli said. "We've struggled to score this year and Thornton is a scoring machine. I'm immensely proud of how we played."
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: email@example.com
click image to enlarge
Libby Andreasen of Gorham, right, competes for the ball with Tori Daigle of Thornton Academy during Thornton’s 2-0 victory Tuesday in a Western Class A quarterfinal. The second-seeded Trojans will take a 15-0 record to the semis.