Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
WINTHROP -- Sometimes it's just not your day. Thursday was shaping up that way for Winthrop senior Alyssa Arsenault.
When Arsenault dug into her bag before a big game against Lisbon, she found that her goalie helmet was broken. Then she felt sick just before game time. Then, while playing in a borrowed helmet, she gave up a goal late in the first half.
But as Lisbon dominated the flow for most of the afternoon, the saves Arsenault had made -- and there were 20 in all -- became more and more crucial. Arsenault held the Greyhounds at one goal, and Winthrop scored twice in the final 8 1/2 minutes for a dramatic 2-1 victory.
"Alyssa kept us in the game early," Winthrop coach Jess Merrill said. "She came up to me before the game and said, 'Coach, I'm not feeling good.' I'm like, 'It's just gotta be the jitters. You are OK!'
"She was the all-conference goalie last year, and she really looked like it today. This is the best she's played all season. She's just a beast."
The Ramblers (7-1) desperately wanted this game, for two reasons: It was the first time they were facing Lisbon since losing to the Greyhounds in last year's state final, and after losing six key players to graduation, the current Winthrop team knew this was a chance to prove it could play at a high level.
"We play a lot more as a team this year," said senior Rachel Ingram, who scored the game-winning goal with 2:18 left. "I think we've really proved ourselves this year."
The play was even for about the first 10 minutes of the game, but then Lisbon (6-1-1) started camping out near Arsenault and the Winthrop goal. At one point, Arsenault made a split save, dove on the ground to her right a few seconds later for another save, then shimmied on her stomach to face the play and batted the ball away for a third save. And while Lisbon left wing Hanna Jordan got open behind the defense several times, Arsenault single-handedly denied her of a sure goal on three different occasions. Two of those came with the score 1-1 in the final minutes.
Still, Lisbon had a 22-7 advantage in shots on the day, and that finally paid off when Arianna Kahler gathered in a long pass from Bailey Cutler and beat Arsenault with 4:08 to go in the first half.
The Greyhounds had seven shots in the first seven minutes of the second half, but couldn't pad their lead. Winthrop had a chance when Ingram shook a defender after taking a pass from Emily Molino, but Lisbon goalie Stevie Charest came up to stuff the shot.
With 8:48 to go, Winthrop earned its first penalty corner in nearly 23 minutes of play. Ingram fed a pass to Cat Ouellette, who bobbled it but recovered to set up the play. Emmah Spahr one-timed a pass from Ingram, and the score was tied with 8:20 remaining.
Spahr kick-started Winthrop's final goal. From the right side near midfield, she passed ahead to Ingram, who shot past one defender and faked out another. Ingram then drew Charest out of the cage, and went around her to score what turned out to be the game-winner.
"We played as a team, today," Arsenault said. "We clicked, finally. There's no place to go but up from here."
"(Winthrop) played hard the whole game," Lisbon coach Julie Wescott said. "I'm going to completely credit them: They didn't stop. And we did at times, and they capitalized on it. I'm fine with how (we're) playing. It's not like we played bad. We played hard, and when two great teams get together, unfortunately, something like that could happen. I'm not disappointed."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243