Girls Soccer: Windham falls narrowly to Noble

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WINDHAM—Noble dropped in on Windham and pulled out a 1-0 win on Friday afternoon, Sept. 21. The Eagles began the game in control of the attack, but Knights freshman Olivia Howard notched the afternoon’s only goal.

“We’ll take it; it’s respectable,” Windham head coach Deb Lebel said of her girls’ record, 4-2 come the end of the day. “We have some tough games coming up. We can’t take anybody lightly; we still have Gorham, Scarborough left. We don’t play Cheverus. We’ve got Marshwood still to play. So we have a tough road.”

Everything went well for Windham early vs. Noble: The Eagles controlled the ball, controlled the field and pressured, pressured, pressured – until something went awry for them.

“[Noble] took us out of our game a little bit,” Lebel said. “They had a couple girls who took us out of our game. I would say [Olivia Howard] and [Isabella Reil].”

Lebel elaborated: “They like to play this flat back four, which we struggle with. Right now we’re playing two up front and we struggle with having our forwards use their midfield effectively.”

“When we play our game, which is the possession game,” Lebel continued, “work together, move it around, switch fields – then we do well.”

Windham turned in a quality chance in the 26th minute – a shot just high of the Knights’ crossbar – but, of course, they didn’t convert. No, instead it was Howard, in the 29th minute, who lit up the scoreboard for the game’s one and only tally.

Howard’s shot came in low, toward the left side of Windham’s net, where keeper Riley Silvia pounced and made the initial save. Silvia couldn’t, however, also make the grab – she couldn’t secure the ball and prevent a follow-up shot on a rebound. That shot, Howard’s game-winning shot, beat Silvia at the left corner.

“That was an unfortunate goal,” Lebel said. “We had a little defensive let-down. Nobody stepped up. And we lacked communication. We talked about that at halftime: Communication was key, and we did not do a good job, first half, of communicating.”

In the second half, Windham improved their talk. The change helped them generate numerous additional opportunities. Meghan Hoffses, for example, logged multiple close calls before time ultimately expired, including one around 13 minutes in – a spectacular blast that deflected off the underside of the Noble crossbar. It could’ve bounced in, but it bounced out.

“Goals have not come easy to us,” Lebel said. “They’re going to start falling soon; they really are.”

Asked which of her girls contributed a solid outing, Lebel readily named names: “Alanna Joyce in the midfield, really helped control the midfield. Meghan did keep the pressure on up top. Belle, in the back, sweeper,” she said. “Belle Skvorak.”

Lebel’s assistant coach, Jimmy Stewart (not that Jimmy Stewart), took the opportunity to nod at a few girls as well. “When all else fails, there’s Belle,” he said. “She just comes to the rescue. The set pieces she had – served us some great balls. And she brings a lot of confidence to the defense.”

“And look at the two outside backs,” Stewart went on, “Miranda Lewis and Hannah Talon…Defensively, even though we gave up a goal, I don’t think we played poorly. Kept a lot of pressure and won a lot of balls. Those guys have really been rocks for us.”

Windham, as indicated, is now 4-2. The eighth-ranked Eagles travel to No. 9 Thornton Academy (3-4) on Wednesday, Sept. 26; they host No. 10 Sanford (3-3-1) three days later, on Saturday the 29th.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Windham’s Meghan Hoffses plunges into the corner, on the attack.

Windhamite Erin Elder unwinds into a shot.

Emma Yale shoulders into a Noble opponent.

Riley Beem launches a ball forward for the Eagles.

Isabella Reil and Miranda Lewis vie for control.

Noble’s Cassandra Chabot and Windham’s Amelia Mortero converge on a ball.

Windhamite Hannah Talon and Nobleite Olivia Howard clash.

Julia McKenna saves a runaway ball from careening out of bounds.

Knight Lydia Shettler and Eagle Alanna Joyce clash over a header.

Noble’s Olivia Howard and Windam’s Riley Pepin go shoulder-to-shoulder in pursuit of a ball.

Additional photos can be found here:

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