Panthers Recover in Time
Thetford Girls Stop Stowe to Remain Undefeated
Thetford's Shyann Josler is stopped by Stowe goalie Caroline Armbruster during their match in Thetford on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Thetford won the game 2-1. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Thetford's Elyse Lindahl skirts past Stowe's Ali Leach during their match in Thetford on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Thetford won the game 2-1. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Thetford — It was in the 65th minute against Stowe on Wednesday when Thetford Academy’s Michaela Pomeroy took a rare trip to the sideline.
The Panthers might want to consider resting her more often.
The junior striker scored on a give-and-go with Shyann Josler moments after being reinserted, lifting unbeaten Thetford to a 2-1 win over the Raiders in girls soccer action.
It was the second goal of the game and team-leading 10th of the season for Pomeroy, who was taken out for what Panthers coach Mark Weigel called a “low compete level.”
He felt that way about most of his players at some point during the game as Thetford (6-0) survived Stowe (2-4-1) despite being outplayed for much of the second half.
The game was tied 1-1 at the half after the Raiders struck first at the 24-minute mark and Pomeroy’s unassisted strike seven minutes later knotted the game.
Stowe held only a 6-5 edge in shots in the second half, but played most of it in the Panthers’ zone and led 3-1 in corner kicks.
“The low compete level is an area of concern,” said Weigel, whose team is outscoring opponents 22-5. “We need to be more consistent, where everyone is giving 100 percent as a group. We can’t rely on others to carry the load. We need to be 11-strong on the field.”
Pomeroy wasn’t the first Thetford starter to be temporarily benched yesterday; junior midfielder Kaitlyn Boyce and others were also summoned to the sideline.
Pomeroy was the most visibly perturbed by the gesture, but not because she disagreed with her coach.
“I was (stinking),” she said afterward. “I wasn’t playing to the level that’s expected of me. I wasn’t helping the team or being the leader that I need to be.”
Pomeroy had to persuade her coach repeatedly that she was ready to go back in and perform.
“She told me she was ready to go back in four times; I ignored the first three,” Weigel said with a grin. “On the fourth one, she convinced me. I knew she didn’t want to be out (of the game) and just needed to raise her compete level. When she went back in, she did that.”
Less than two minutes after re-entering, Pomeroy picked off the ball from a Stowe midfielder and burst up the middle with Josler in front of her. Pomeroy tapped it to Josler, then charged ahead. She received Josler’s return pass in stride and dribbled once before beating Stowe keeper Caroline Armbruster (seven saves) at the right post from 16 yards out.
“That was a pretty typical goal where we set each other up,” said Josler, who didn’t score at least once for the first time this season, with many of those scores coming on Pomeroy feeds.
The Raiders — who played well during a pair of recent losses against two-time defending champion Peoples — challenged Thetford goalie Ella Chapman (10 saves) down the stretch. Playing most of the final 15 minutes in the Panthers’ end, Raider defender Gabriella Silva set up Kalli Glanz for a strong chance on the left side with 9:45 left.
Stowe played with just three defenders after that and had additional chances when Katelyn O’Toole, who scored a first-half goal, had a point-blank bid out front with less than three minutes to play and a crossing pass from O’Toole to Darien Boerger in the final minute led to Boerger pushing it just wide right.
“We had plenty of opportunities while playing in their end; sometimes they just don’t go in,” said Stowe coach Tim Ziegler, whose team, like Thetford, lost in last year’s semis. “Pomeroy is a good scorer. She got open twice and buried it both times.”
Stowe struck first on its third shot of the game, O’Toole taking a pass from Glanz and dribbling in alone. Panther defender Abby Osheyack backpedaled a bit too far, allowing O’Toole to rip it uncontested past Chapman from the left side 16 minutes in.
Pomeroy’s first goal came 17:10 before intermission. Her lofted offering was intended for freshman Taylor Hollis, but instead plunked down just over the goal line, with Hollis whiffing on a header, to make it 1-1.
Hollis is one of five freshmen on the Panthers, four of whom start. They hope to be the next wave of contributors on a Thetford team that has turned around under Weigel. After winning just three games combined in 2009-10, the Panthers doubled that total during Weigel’s first season in 2011, then won 11 games last year as they reached the semis for the first time since 2005.
With help from freshmen Hollis, Regan Covey (four goals, assist) and others, Thetford has routed most opponents during its half-dozen wins to start the year. Only a 1-0 win over Oxbow and Wednesday’s battle with Stowe have been close — the rest were by at least four goals as they dominated area rivals Blue Mountain, Rivendell and Windsor.
“(Stowe) was our first real test and I think we were a little afraid to make mistakes,” Wiegel said. “They’re a good team and they took it to us. ... We have five freshmen and another three players who are new to the team so our rate of improvement is going to be different than it might be on some teams.”
Free Kicks: Stowe led 16-15 in shots and 4-3 on corner kicks. ... Senior defender Abby Osheyack and her sister Mimi, a sophomore midfielder, are transfers from Hanover High whose older brother, Yosef, is a former Marauder now playing for the U.S. National Deaf Soccer Team.
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.