Blanchard, Monument Girls Come Back to Beat Lenox
LENOX, Mass. -- For 40 minutes Saturday morning, the Lenox and Monument Mountain girls soccer teams went toe-to-toe and matched chance-for-chance like the undefeated teams they were going into the midseason showdown.
But the Spartans got a goal from Aubrey Blanchard in the 38th minute tie the game and dominated play the rest of the way to earn a 2-1 win and improve to 6-0.
“I think we just knew we were still in the game and wanted to work hard for each other and our coaches, and come out on top, if we could,” Blanchard said of the team’s mood at half-time after Nicole Gamberoni’s shot from outside the penalty area gave Lenox (6-1) a 1-0 lead. “And we started connecting, which was good.”
Lauren Kinne connected with Blanchard for the equalizer with 37 minutes, 24 seconds left to play.
Kinne took a pass on the right wing, settled and slid a pass over to Blanchard inside the penalty area. Blanchard used her left foot to beat a diving Sophie Patella (seven saves).
“I had faith in her ability to find the seam, and I ran onto the ball,” Blanchard said. “I was happy to put it away for the team.”
The goal certainly gave her team a lift, as Monument Mountain went on to outshoot the Millionaires by a margin of 9-2 and earn a 6-1 margin in corner kicks in the last 40 minutes.
“I think we lost a little bit of the spark we had in the first half,” Kyle Zinchuk said. “I think giving up that goal early kind of deflated our sails a little bit.
“We talked about, ‘Hey, if something doesn’t go our way, forget about it and bounce right back.’ But that’s something we have yet to learn this season. We haven’t really had that sort of thing happen to us. This is a learning moment where when we have that experience, we’ll know how to deal better with it next time.”
The Spartans took the lead on their third corner kick of the game in the 54th minute. Gabby Defelice restarted the ball from the left-wing corner, sending it across the 18. Maya Cooney took possession and lofted the ball into the goal box, where Blanchard headed it home.
Zinchuk said Monument Mountain’s size advantage makes a difference on the set pieces, but there are things Lenox can work on to counter that.
“It looked like every single one of them was 6-feet tall, right,” Zinchuk joked. “You look across the field, and none of them are short. On the goal Aubrey had, Soph was close, she had a play on it, I think Aubrey just positioned herself really well where Soph was left trying to reach over the top, and Aubrey was able put a head to it first.
“The size definitely does play a factor, and it’s not like you can just make your players bigger. But that’s something we have to account for and do a better job of positioning ourselves -- using our bodies and making sure not to give them those open looks where they can use their height.”
Monument Mountain coach Jess Platt indicated success on those plays starts with a good first strike.
“Corner kicks are a wild card for both teams,” she said. “We just do the best we can with them. We’re lucky to have some girls who can give some big service. We just try to make the most of it.”
Monument Mountain will try to keep its perfect season going on Monday when it hosts Lee.
Lenox looks to get back in the win column Tuesday at home against Taconic.