AUGUSTA — After a strong first half that produced a two-goal lead, the Winslow girls soccer team found itself on its heels against Gardiner early in the second half.
The Tigers cut the lead to a goal on Kylee Granholm’s penalty kick and twice hit the post in attempts to tie the game. But the Black Raiders kept the ball out of their goal, produced a couple of good chances themselves and hung on for a 3-2 win in a well-played game despite a steady rain.
“They always play us tough,” Winslow coach Sean Carey said. “We know they’re going to be physical. They’re in the hunt for the playoffs.”
With two games remaining in the regular season Winslow is 10-2-0 and in fifth place in the Eastern Maine Class B standings. Gardiner is 7-5-0 and in 11th place. Twelve teams in the division qualify for the postseason.
“It was a good game,” Gardiner coach Chad Kirk said. “That was playoff soccer. Win, lose or draw, if we play like that I’m happy.”
The Black Raiders carried play in the first half despite falling behind on an early goal from Gardiner junior Ally Day. Senior Alliyah Veilleux responded with two quick scores to give the Black Raiders the lead for good. She tied the game just two minutes after Day’s goal when she curled in a corner kick from the left side. Three minutes later, Veilleux beat Gardiner keeper Maddie Cutler in a race to a loose ball and tapped a shot into the net.
With sophomore Pilar Elias controlling a lot of the action at midfield, Winslow held the Gardiner to two shots on goal in the first half.
“All my midfielders work hard,” Carey said. “We try to control the midfield because that’s how you win games.”
The Tigers took control of midfield early in the second half behind Granholm, Emma Hickey and Katy Owen with a lot of help from senior Brittany Carver in the back. They were awarded a penalty kick when a Morgan Carver was knocked down in the penalty area. Granholm’s kick along the ground found the right corner of the goal to make it 3-2.
Winslow freshman goalkeeper Hillary Libby made two saves in the second half, both off Day and both spectacular. First she came way out of her goal to stuff Day after she slipped behind the Winslow defense. Then she smothered a rebound off Day’s foot after Day had hit the right post with her initial shot.
“We had six consecutive shutouts in a row,” Carey said. “We conceded a goal to Leavitt last week. She’s good under pressure.”
Morgan Carver also rung a shot off the post for Gardiner while Elias hit the crossbar and teammate Autumn Poulin the post later in the half. Cutler finished with nine saves, the best off Elias from point blank range after she broke in alone with 15 minutes left to play.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638