MONMOUTH — Monmouth Academy has been waiting all season to put a full game together. The Mustangs’ first playoff game provided plenty of incentive.

The fourth-seeded Monmouth girls soccer team jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first half en route to a 4-1 victory over No. 5 Hall-Dale in a Class C South quarterfinal Tuesday at Chick Field.

Sammy Grandahl had a goal and two assists to lead the Mustangs (11-2-2). Younger sister Emily Grandahl, Haley Fletcher and Sidney Wilson also scored for Monmouth.

“We played with a lot of heart today,” said Sammy Grandahl, a senior wing. “I knew it could be my last game. It kind of struck me at practice (Monday) this could be my last practice, and obviously, we want to have more games together.”

“We’ve had a hard time playing 80 minutes,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said. “We had some lulls. The second half we had a lull there for a little while. But the girls played well. I don’t know how many shots Hall-Dale got (eight on goal), but I think they had one quality shot which was out quite a ways. We kept them in check pretty well.”

Monmouth advances to Friday’s semifinal against the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal between No. 1 Sacopee Valley and No. 9 Traip.

Dani Sweet scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs (11-3-1), who had eight shots on goal.

“That’s one of the toughest defending teams in our conference,” said Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins, whose team handed the Mustangs a 3-2 defeat on Oct. 9. “They’re playing on their home field with one of the teams that beat them, so they had something to prove. They came out hard and physical and it was a very, very physically challenging game.”

A push whistled on the Bulldogs set up the Mustangs’ first goal 6:51 in — a direct kick by Emily Grandahl from about 25 yards out that Hall-Dale goalie Hailey Taker (15 saves) would have needed a step-ladder to reach in the upper-left corner of the net.

“Our coach tells us either look for the pass but if you think you can get it just take the shot and believe in yourself,” Emily Grandahl said.

The Mustangs didn’t let up for the rest of the half but didn’t find the back of the net again until 10:31 remained. Fletcher kept after Sammy Grandahl’s corner kick and got it past Taker on the second touch for the 2-0 advantage.

“I usually try to bend my corners in between the six-yard and the penalty,” Sammy Grandahl said. “We’ve been having trouble with people getting on it, but she got in there and she wanted it. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever had happen.”

Three minutes later, Sammy Grandahl scored unassisted to make it 3-0.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half, it was the Bulldogs who were the aggressor. But aside from a sizzling shot from about 15 yards by Sweet that Mustangs goalie Mikayla Cameron smothered, they couldn’t generate many chances until Sweet knocked home a pass from Addie Davis to spoil the shutout with 12:14 remaining.

Much to their coach’s relief, the Mustangs answered quickly, as Sammy Grandahl set up Wilson to make it a three-goal game again with 9:36 left

“I didn’t know if it was going to be another Madison game (when the Mustangs squandered a 2-0 lead in a game that ended in a 2-2 tie), and it wasn’t,” Trafton said. “I was real happy and pleased with how the girls responded.”

Hall-Dale graduates eight seniors, including Sweet, Taker and fellow MVC all-stars Emma Begin, Lilly Ly, Signe Lynch, Mari Smith and Thea Sweet.

“One game doesn’t define these young women,” Cousins said. “This is the sort of group that will take a loss like this and say, OK, how am I going to use this and learn from it and how can I incorporate these lessons in my life. They’re going to be doing some amazing things on and off soccer fields after this.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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