MADISON — Both Monmouth and Madison were coming off their first loss of the season when they squared off in a crucial Mountain Valley Conference match Monday. Both knew the winner would have a psychological and Heal points advantage when they meet again in one week in what could be an even more critical sequel. And both paid a physical price to try to gain every advantage.

Senior striker Kayla Bess scored with 32 seconds left in the first overtime to give Madison a 2-1 win in an intense late-season match between two of the MVC’s best.

“This was very important, for moving up to first or second place in the standings, contending for an MVC championship and going deep into the playoffs,” Bess said.

“This team has had intense moments in games before, but in this particular game, they played hard every second of the game,” Madison co-coach Michael Walsh said.

Monmouth’s Sidney Wilson added more seconds to that effort when she followed her own shot and scored with 1:29 remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Mustangs (9-2-1) had the first chance of the extra session, but Tia Day’s long shot went off the top of the crossbar a little less than two minutes in. Bess nearly ended it for Madison (9-1-2) a few moments later but her shot from in front of the net went wide.

Freshman Trista Giroux, who had just re-entered the game for the Bulldogs, set up Bess for the game-winner with a cross from the right wing. Monmouth goalie Mikayla Cameron (10 saves) charged out of the net to try to beat Bess to the ball and got a hand on it, but it bounced behind her, leaving Bess only her defender to beat to the ball before she tapped it into the open net.

“You want to be the one to score that goal. I think it just comes down to being in the right place at the right time,” Bess said.

“We played well, but soccer’s not about kicking the ball and trapping the ball,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said. “It’s all about effort and heart, which we had today. But two mental mistakes, two goals.”

The Bulldogs dominated the first 20 minutes of the game, firing eight of the first nine shots. Cameron made a diving stop to rob Bess, then smothered Ashley Emery’s follow-up from point-blank range. The Mustangs caught a break later in the half when a shot deflected off Cameron’s chest and bounced to Bess, whose rebound attempt to an open net went wide right.

“I think we just knew it was an important game,” Madison senior goalie Erin Whalen said. “I think it was definitely our best defensive game so far. We’ve struggled with it a little bit this year, but I think everyone worked really hard and that was the key.”

The Mustangs turned the tables in the final 20 minutes of the first half and had several close calls of their own. Haley Fletcher’s header on Sammy Grandahl’s cross went over the crossbar. Grandahl later had a couple of good chances of her own, but one cleared the crossbar and Whalen (12 saves) stopped the other with a leaping save.

Injuries started to pile-up for the Mustangs at the end of the first half. Senior Cheyenne Gray went down with a left ankle injury and did not return. Senior Taylor Spadafora caught a foot to the head and did return early in the second half.

The injury bug hit the Bulldogs in the second half when sophomore Madeline Wood limped off with a knee injury. Four minutes later, Fletcher and Whalen collided on a 50/50 ball near the top of the box. Both were down on the ground and tended to by a trainer, then left the pitch under their own power. Whalen returned to the game a short time later. Fletcher was not allowed to return after going through the concussion protocol. Madison also lost sophomore Aisha Malloy at the end of regulation.

The Bulldogs earned a penalty kick with 16:09 to go in regulation when Jillian Holden was pushed near the top of the box. Wood took the penalty kick and beat Cameron inside the left post to put the Bulldogs up, 1-0.

“She started doing our pk’s during the summer and she was consistent, so we’ve had her doing them during the season and she’s delivered for us,” Walsh said.

Both teams have one other game against Mountain Valley — the Mustangs on Wednesday, Bulldogs on Thursday — before next Monday’s rematch in their season finale in Monmouth.

That game was a last-minute addition to the schedule because Madison and Monmouth each had an opening after Telstar opted not to field a team this season due to low numbers.

“They’re a very good team and we respect that,” Walsh said of Monmouth. “But we think that if we’re going to do well in the postseason, we’ve got to play the best. So we’re happy to be playing them twice.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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