NAPLES – Lake Region took an early lead against visiting Gray-New Gloucester on Friday afternoon, Sept. 8 – but the Patriots would ultimately surge to victory: Alexa Thayer posted a pair of determined, second-half goals to elevate her girls over the Lakers 2-1 in the end.
“I’m happy with how it turned out,” said G-NG head coach Kiaran McCormack. “We created a lot of opportunities, and their goalkeeper came up with some big-time saves. She did really, really well. It was starting to look like it was going to be one of those games where she was just at such a level that it kept them ahead.”
Rain actually interrupted the game barely two minutes in; only after a lengthy delay did play resume. When that happened, G-NG seized initial control of the attack, with LRHS relying for their offensive chances on a few, scattered forays up the field.
In due course, however, the Lakers settled in; they balanced the action out and, roughly 13 minutes in, capitalized: A Neva Leavitt corner kick curled prettily inward toward Patriots keeper Chelsea Adams – who made contact with the ball, but couldn’t quite keep her hands on it, and unfortunately deflected it in.
“There was a miscommunication,” McCormack said of the Lakers’ tally. “The ball rebounded off our goalkeeper, and that’s very uncharacteristic of our her; she’s done really well this year with the crosses. I’m sure that’s the only one that will go in off her this season.”
Both squads turned some near-misses as the remainder of the opening half unfolded, but neither could convert. 1-0 at the break.
Lake Region applied heavy pressure to begin the downhill 40 minutes, but the scoring would all belong to G-NG. Thayer – who all afternoon had knifed up and down the right side of the field, firing off shots and cross-passes and in general threatening to carve up the Lakers’ defense – battled for successful rebounds on two separate occasions, thrusting her girls into the lead.
McCormack praised Thayer. “Alexa’s our wide forward; she worked really hard to get into the box, and was able to put it in from pretty close range. She scored both and I’m thankful that she did.”
“Alexa is very dynamnic, extremely athletic,” McCormack said. “She’s really brought some refinement to her game, and her end product has improved.”
Thayer’s first strike came with 18:56 remaining; after that, play rolled up and down the field, and the teams’ keepers – Adams for G-NG and Madison Rock for LRHS – traded spectacular saves around the 13-minute mark.
In the waning moments – with maybe 3:00 to play – Rock turned another great save, this one a diving deflection on a G-NG blast from in close. But Rock, laid out on the ground after the effort, couldn’t get to her feet in time to also repel Thayer’s follow-up shot, which bulged the twine and secured the Patriots their 2-1 W.
“Another focus that we’ve had is the follow-up on those rebounds,” McCormack said. “I say to them, ‘You don’t score style points; if you can be there for a rebound two yards out, one yard out, and put it in, it counts the same as if you put a 20-yard rocket in the top corner.’”
“I’m really happy with how the girls played hard right until the very end,” McCormack said. “That was something they had said they wanted to bring into the season, was 00 percent focus through to the end of games.”
McCormack took a moment to laud another of his players. “Bri Jordan, who’s playing in midfield, she’s definitely a really incredible athlete. People know her from basketball, and the success the G-NG team had with basketball. But she really carried the play to Lake Region, and she was the one that took the shot for the first goal, that rebounded. Her energy and intensity carried the team forward. It was looking for a while like, ‘Are we going to get a goal?’”
G-NG moves to 1-2 on the season; the Patriots began their trek this autumn with a 2-0 loss to Yarmouth and a 4-0 loss to Cape. They host Greely on Sept. 12, travel to Freeport on the 14th and welcome Sacopee Valley on the 16th.
Lake Region slips to 0-2; the Lakers fell 2-1 to Wells back on Sept. 1. They drop in on Poland on the 13th, then host Freeport three days later.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
G-NG’s Emma Woods and LRHS’s Lauren Jakobs clash.
Neva Leavitt settles a ball for LRHS.
Patriot Kelsey Randall heads an incoming ball.
Eliza Hotham cuts upfield for Gray-New Gloucester vs. Lake Region.
Patriot Laurel Thomas and Laker Maraia Nason collide in pursuit of an airborne ball.
Laker McKenzie Siebert chases as Patriot Madysen West pushes forward with the ball.
Alexa Thayer posted both of G-NG’s points against Lake Region on Friday.