by Ken Brown
BRADFORD – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) girls’ soccer team is becoming battle tested as they took another Division III opponent to the wire last week, but couldn’t quite get over the hump, falling to 2-3 on the season.
McKenna Smith buried a feed from Maggi Ellsworth with ten minutes left in regulation to help Oxbow eke out a 2-1 home win over the Lady Chargers last Tuesday. Sadie Skorstad connected on a rocket from just outside the 18 yard line midway through the first half to give CA a 1-0 advantage heading into the break. Brianna Gray knotted the match at 1-1 early in the second half, giving the momentum back to the home team. Coming off her record-breaking performance last week, Rachel Bailey was outstanding in net for the Lady Chargers once again, making 16 stops in the loss. Mackenna Simmons recorded one save for Oxbow as they improved to 1-3-2 on the season.
“It was a good back-and-forth match and a little heartbreaking to fight so hard and come so close. Sadie is starting to get more confident in taking that type of shot more often. She has a cannon for a leg and she’s becoming more and more accurate with it. When teams give her space outside the 18 like that, we are encouraging her to take that shot more often. Oxbow outshot us on the stat sheet, but I was really happy with some moments in the match where we did a nice job of controlling possession that led to some high quality scoring chances. It is that quality over quantity that we are striving for. Rachel came up big for us again as she has all season long. The girls are working hard and I like the improvement I’m seeing, we are just a pass away or an execution away at times from having a different outcome,” said head coach Patrick Houle.
Houle liked the way his young squad battled last week in some tough losses to Division III Stowe and Richford. He understands that many of the teams on his challenging schedule are bigger, more experienced, and deeper, but views it as an opportunity for valuable learning experiences to get better as a soccer program. His players are ‘all in’ and approaching those challenges the right way with the same process.
“I loved how the girls approached those tough matches last week and the perspective we have as a program is assessing last week and what we have to do to continue to get better. I like to think that iron sharpens iron and we were right there for a long time with Richford last week and that is very encouraging. The girls see it too and it shows them that putting in all of that hard work to change our style of soccer is worth it. We are looking forward to more challenges this week,” said Houle.
CA hosted Winooski on Monday and are scheduled to travel to Danville on Wednesday.