The Orono Women’s Soccer team entered another week of games, still trying to find their footing given the change-over of 12 players from last year’s State Runners-Up team. The last two matchups for the Spartans resulted in hard-fought ties, leaving Orono looking to secure their first win after a week.
Orono came charging into the game playing fast and moving the ball well against an aggressive Watertown Mayer team. Much of the beginning of the first half was played fighting for possession in the midfield. Sophomore Nora Chouanard was the first to find the back of the net for the Spartans, giving them a 1-0 lead midway through the first half. Orono continued to control the tempo and fought hard to have several strong scoring chances, but the Royal defense was tenacious and physical, shutting down all Spartan attacks the rest of the half. The Orono defense, led by Junior goalkeeper Harper Randolph, thwarted several pushes late in the half, but at 5:00 left before the break, a speedy Royals attacker slipped behind Orono’s defensive line from a long ball played from the midfield to tie the game at 1-1.
The Royals started the second half with a lot of pressure, but the Spartans continued to move the ball well and put pressure on the Royal defense. The game continued back and forth with a direct style of play coming from Watertown Mayer, and the Spartans fought to control the game with their solid ball control and passing. As the game became more physical, the Royals blocked a clearing kick by the Orono goalkeeper to pop the ball loose for another attacker to score off the redirected rebound, resulting in a 1-2 game.
With six minutes left in the second half, Rylea Denneson chased down a Royal attacker who had broken free in the Orono defensive third and made an incredible stop. She turned the ball and sent a soaring counter-offensive full-field pass to the forwards. Nora Chouanard ran onto the ball, avoiding one defender, and tapped the ball around the charging goalie to tuck the ball into the back of the net for her second tally, tying the game at 2-2.
In the final two minutes of play, the Royals continued to put pressure on the Orono defense, playing long balls to their speedy forward line. The Spartans fended off several of these attacks but were unable to clear a ball after a corner kick, and a pesky Royal forward punched a loose ball in for a final score of 2-3.
Orono went into Thursday’s game against Jordan, a new opponent on this year’s schedule, with something to prove. Halle Foster came out quickly with an impressive goal off a cross from Grace Bickett. The Spartans continued to control the game, moving the ball well through the midfield, and at 21 minutes in the half, connected on another great crossing combo from the left-footed Frankie Fragola to Grace Bickett for a 2-0 lead. Strong play and good pressure in the middle of the field by Gigi Martin, Tess Basil, and Oliva Boyd kept Orono momentum throughout the first half. Annabelle Edwards anchored the defense as goalie.
As the second half started, Megan Kostial stepped up to take a turn in net, continuing to guide the team from the back. Nora Chouanard kept her scoring streak alive, finding the net early into play after the break. The final two goals were scored by Orono’s senior captains, Jillian Cook and Kyler Burrows, who stepped up from the backfield and illustrated their offensive abilities in the match. Cook scored on a header off another nice cross from Frankie Fragola, and Burrows lofted a 30-yard shot over the head of the outstretched Jordan keeper for a final score of 5-0. Spartans moved to 2-1-2 overall in the season.
Longtime Superfans Mr. Allex and Mr. Shaughnessy both were impressed by the solid play of the Spartans. Mr. Allex stated, “The team hasn’t missed a step after losing as many girls as they did last year, and it’s great to be able to see them out playing this season.” Mr. Shaughnessy added, “For a group that hasn’t played together much, they came back after a tough loss and played very well together.”