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Wildcats Edge Feisty Tigers

Langdon, n.h. — It would have been an attention-grabber.

While it was just the first game of the season, Fall Mountain’s established and successful girls soccer program was a heavy favorite over a Newport program that has made strides over the last few years, but was not figured to have reached the Wildcats’ level of play.

With just 15 minutes left, however, the underdog Tigers had a 1-0 lead. But the when the clock struck midnight, Cinderella lost her shoe as Fall Mountain scored two late goals to take a 2-1 win Friday night.

It also was a night of firsts. The two coaches, Newport’s Jon Hamel and Fall Mountain’s Justin Parrott, were new to their respective programs, even though Parrott had coached the girls previously from 2000-08. It was also the first game played on Fall Mountain’s new regulation-size soccer field, which also features new lights.

Soccer is one of those sports that a team can control play flow, but if the ball doesn’t go in the net, the team controlling the play could lose. And Parrott was clearly aware of that.

“We controlled the middle of the field, but I know that this could have been one of those games where our team played well and could have lost,” he said.

One of the reasons that Fall Mountain could have lost this game was because of the stellar play of Tiger first-year goalkeeper Moriah Chase. Not only was she bouncing around and making 13 saves, she got off booming punt after booming punt.

“I never saw a goalkeeper boot the ball that far,” Parrott said. “When some of those balls came down, they had been booted so high they bounced over the heads of our girls.”

Hamel probably had the bigger smile of the two coaches after the game, because even though his Tigers lost, it was one of those games that felt like a victory.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “We can use this as a measuring stick for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to tell my girls how well they played.”

Hamel also agreed that the Wildcats controlled the midfield and it might have made more of a difference had it not been for Chase, his keeper.

“And she’s a first-year keeper,” he said. “We lost both of our keepers from last year.”

After a scoreless first half, Newport scored the game’s first goal when Sophie Willis knocked in her own rebound eight minutes into the second half. It looked like it might be the only score of the day. Even though the Wildcats controlled the midfield play, they could not finish. That was the story until about 15 minutes left, when the complexion of the game changed. The Wildcats’ Bailey Roberts had a clean look in front of the Newport net. Her shot was stopped first by Chase, but Roberts knocked in her own rebound. The game-winner came six minutes later, when a Rachel Tidd shot caromed back to Josie Holt, who tapped it to decide the game.

Previously, Fall Mountain had played soccer on the football field which many visiting coaches did not approve because it was not wide or long enough. But this new structure is a regulation 120 feet-by-75-feet. Fall Mountain Athletic Director Matt Schmidt said the new facility was a 10-year project involving a lot of volunteers and fundraising.

Newport meets Kearsarge in its next game on Wednesday.