STANDISH—Scot Cassidy Koons set up her younger sister Hailey for the lone goal in a tough bout with visiting Marshwood on Friday evening, Sept. 29. Bonny Eagle, who’re having a banner season, triumphed over the Hawks 1-0 to pick up their highest-profile win yet.
“I circled this one on my calender,” Bonny Eagle head coach Ed Taylor said of the matchup, “knowing this would be a very tight contest – because we got lucky down there, last year, and escaped, I think, with a 3-1 win. And I knew they’d come prepared; their coach, she knows what she’s doing. They’re a good team.” Chelsea Watson heads up the Marshwood squad.
The Scots didn’t roll into the matchup with a clear idea of what to do against Hawks. “Not when we came into it,” Cassidy Koons said. “As soon as the game start, though, we did have one girl we started to mark.”
Instead, Bonny Eagle aimed to play their brand of soccer from the get-go. “We came in thinking we needed to play hard and play very aggressive against this team to win,” Koons said. “And I think we showed that pretty well as a team.”
Hailey Koons echoed her sister. “We came in to the game trying to go aggressive,” she said; “our previous game, we didn’t go in as aggressive. This game, we came out hard. We really wanted this one.”
The Scots and the Hawks played a pretty even matchup throughout: Both teams logged lengthy stretches on the attack and hashed some solid shots. Bonny Eagler Maddy Boothby, for instance, belted a great header off a cross-ball in the 25th minute, but both defenses – including keepers Sydney Gillingham (Bonny Eagle) and Miranda Melton (Marshwood) – stood strong through the entirety of the first half.
“They’re young, they’re quick, and it showed tonight; I thought, at times, they controlled the tempo of the game and had the ball in our defensive end a little to much,” Taylor said of Marshwood. “But we knew if we could just get a few things forward – because we have some dynamic players – just give us a chance or two, we could convert.”
Scot Emily Byrne gonged a shot off the Hawks’ post early in the downhill half, but still the score hung at 0-0; not until the 66th minute did Bonny Eagle break the deadlock and – as it would turn out – secure the W.
The elder Koons, as mentioned, set up the point, dropping a free kick just deep enough so her sister could escape defense and get her skillful feet on the ball – but not so deep that Melton could snatch it up first.
Cassidy Koons talked about firing off the free kick: “I knew I had to aim far-post because I knew all the players were crashing from the top of the 18. And I knew we have a bunch of fast strikers up there, so I knew they could get there.”
Hailey Koons, meanwhile, described capitalizing on the opportunity: “It was a perfectly placed ball, and the defender on me was marking me really well,” she said. “Then she laid off, because she thought the goalie was going to come in and get it, and I just tapped it through.”
Hailey Koons actually had a second high-caliber chance to score, late in the game. With barely 21 seconds remaining, she broke away from midfield with the ball, zipped up the left side. Trailed closely by a Hawks defender – a taller one with longer legs, one who would soon catch up with her – Koons had little time to cover the distance and pull the trigger.
Alas, she couldn’t quite get off the shot she wanted, and the ball sailed just wide-left of the Marshwood cage. Still, the game was in the bag: The Scots had secured their biggest W to date this fall.
“I’m thrilled with the scoring opportunities,” Taylor said, asked about the quality of his girls’ attack. “One adjustment I tried to make at halftime was – my mids aren’t shooting enough. We had opportunities at the 20-in, and sometimes the girls didn’t want to shoot till they’re at the 10. So we talked about it at halftime: Put something on frame. We did a little better putting something on frame from a little further out. What that did is, it loosened it up a little bit, because now [Marshwood] had to mark two spots. They had to mark the mids and the strikers.”
The result bumped Bonny Eagle to 7-2 in 2017; the Scots, currently ranked second in A South, have lost only to No. 1 Scarborough (2-1 on Sept. 16) and No. 3 Cheverus (2-0 on Sept. 27). They match up at No. 6 Gorham (7-1-1) on Wednesday, Oct. 4, and welcome No. 5 Kennebunk (6-3-1) on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Cassidy Koons applauded her teammates: “Everyone came out wanting to play, and everyone wanted to be on the field – and when they were on the field, they were trying as hard as they could to stay there, because they wanted to win the game.”
Hailey Koons is optimistic about the Scots’ progress and the direction their season is headed. “Definitely,” she said. “I feel like we’re really coming along, and I think we have a great chance this year.”
“Our team’s working really together, as a team, right now,” Cassidy Koons said. “I feel like, in past years, it’s kind of like, everyone was trying to do the game by themselves. But now everyone’s working together, everyone wants to win together; it doesn’t matter who gets the goal, as long as it goes in.”
It’s the Scots’ best season in several years. Bonny Eagle hardly performed poorly in 2016, going 7-6-1, but possess a certain spark this year: They look more determined, organized and skilled than ever.
Marshwood suffered their first defeat: They’re 7-1-1 now. The Hawks, ranked fourth, host Deering (13th; 2-5-2) on Wednesday, then Gorham on Friday.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at: @CurrentSportsME.
Emily Ginter races a Marshwood opponent to a runaway ball.
Cassidy Koons set up Bonny Eagle’s game-winning goal with a spot-on free kick.
Bonny Eagler Muddy Johnson swoops in to block a Marshwood kick.
Hailey Koons’s game-winning shot blasts past the Marshwood keeper.
Paige Quilty keeps her body between a Hawk and the ball as she tries to control.
Keelin Sweeney carries through the midfield.
Scot Hailey Bell battles a pair of Marshwood opponents.
Randi Lee Robinson fires upfield for Bonny Eagle vs. Marshwood on Friday.
Laura Libby settles a ball for the Scots (wearing pink for breast cancer awareness).
Hailey Koons zips upfield in the waning seconds; she’ll get another strong shot off before the buzzer, but, pressured from behind by a Hawks defender, she won’t quite get the shot off that she wants, and the ball will sail just wide of the Marshwood net.