Mountainside girls soccer battles past talented Lakeridge 1-0
The Mountainside girls soccer team proved itself to be one of the state's best back in 2019.
The Lakeridge girls soccer team did the same.
Both teams came back strong in the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign, too, so it was only fitting that the Mavericks and Pacers matched up in their season finale. In the end, Mountainside got the game's lone goal 12 minutes into the second half and held on to beat Lakeridge 1-0 at Mountainside High School on Thursday, April 8.
"This year has just been crazy in general," said Mountainside senior defender Stella Bauman. "It is just so surreal that it's over, but I wouldn't have rather spent it with any other people. Honestly, these are the best people ever; there's great people here."
"I feel good," said junior forward Gwendolyn Saing, who scored the game's lone goal on Thursday, April 8. "Getting a good ending on a good note with this team is really exciting."
With the win, the Mavericks snapped a two-game losing streak and finished their year at 4-1-1 in the Metro League and 8-2-1 overall. Lakeridge, which played without five injured starters, lost for the first time, saw its four-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 5-0-2 in the Three Rivers League and 8-1-2 overall.
"We've been a solid team all season," said Lakeridge senior defender Keely Lipp. "We've been battling quite a few injuries from some key starters, (but) everyone has really stepped up. It's been the best season I've played."
"Overall, I think we were pretty strong," added junior goalkeeper Abby Pressnell, who made six saves in the loss. "I was pretty happy with how we played. I was especially proud of my defense. I wouldn't be here without them."
The two teams — each finished second in their respective league — battled throughout the first half, with Mountainside getting three corner kicks and two shots on goal, while Lakeridge managed a single corner kick and one shot — but neither team managed to score.
Mountainside started fast in the second half, getting three shots in the first eight minutes by senior midfielder Kyla Williams, then seeing Saing break to score through four minutes later. With 28:41 remaining in the game, Bauman sent a long pass into the left side of the Lakeridge penalty box and Saing stepped up, redirected the ball to the right post and scored to give her team a 1-0 lead.
"It wasn't really meant to happen, but (the ball) got over the defender and I just tapped it into a little short corner that the goalie wouldn't be able to get, because she's obviously really good," Saing said.
While neither team scored in the remaining minutes, it wasn't for lack of effort. Mountainside junior midfielder Emma Rogers had the best chance in that stretch, forcing Pressnell to make a leaping save on Rogers' angled shot from the right side with 12 minutes left to play.
For Lakeridge, the Pacers got two second-half shots on goal from both sophomore defender Molly Bachman and junior forward Tessa French, the best of those French's long blast that forced a leaping stop by Maverick senior keeper Presley Gauthier with six minutes remaining in the game.
"We scored a lot of goals and we didn't get many goals scored on us," Bauman said. "We played well throughout the whole season and that's pretty awesome."
Despite the loss, the Pacers were satisfied with their efforts in the contest.
"We stepped up and really worked together right from the get-go," Lipp said. "We've done a fantastic job ... and the results speak for themselves — we were undefeated up until now."
"Our defense is so strong — we wouldn't have been undefeated for so long if it weren't for our defense," Pressnell added.
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