PITTSFIELD — Two teams sure to reach the postseason put unbeaten records on the line Thursday in a battle of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference heavyweights.

Visiting Gardiner came away with a 3-0 victory over Maine Central Institute thanks to a strong second half and an aggressive defense.

Sophomore Jillian Bisson scored a goal in each half while senior Kalee Michaud added a second-half penalty stroke for the Tigers (6-1). Junior goalie Avery Backus made four saves in earning the shutout.

These teams compete in the same conference but different classes. Last year Class B Gardiner shut out MCI then the Huskies went on to win the Class C state championship.

“They’re worth a lot of (Heal) points,” Gardiner coach Sharon Gallant said. “That’s a big win. They’re good. Their forward line is very fast, they pass very well.”

The Huskies (5-1) controlled play in the first half — they had five penalty corners to none for the Tigers — but could only generate four shots on goal.

“I thought it was a pretty even game,” MCI coach Nancy Hughes said. “I thought the difference was their shots went in and ours didn’t.”

Bisson gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when she scored with just over five minutes remaining in the half. MCI goalie Elspeth Taylor (seven saves) made a nice save on a shot from forward Hailee Lovely, who got the ball back

“(She) got it and flicked it and it went off my stick into the goal,” Bisson said.

Gallant made some halftime adjustments and the Tigers played with more intensity in the second half.

“We switched a couple of kids on different sides,” Gallant said. “They beat us to the ball a bunch in the first half. We also firmed up a couple of pieces. We had some marking issues I think that weren’t clear in the beginning.”

The Tigers made it 2-0 early in the second half on another shot from Lovely that was redirected by Bisson.

“That one was kind of the same thing,” Bisson said. “She hit (the ball) in, it was in the air and it hit my stick and it went in.”

The Huskies nearly scored following a penalty corner when sophomore Madisyn Hartley took the feed from Vivian Duncombe and flicked a high shot that bounced off the crossbar.

Gardiner was awarded a penalty stroke when an MCI field player stopped a shot headed for the goal with her foot. Michaud attempted the shot and beat Taylor to the upper left corner.

“That’s the side I usually go to,” Michaud said, adding “only in practice.”

Michaud, along with Skye Lavoie, Mikayla Bourassa and Sarah Morgan, was one of several players who stood out on defense. Backus, starting her first year in goal, made only one save in the second half but it was a beauty as she went to a split to stop a shot from Duncombe.

“She definitely has come a ways,” Gallant said. “There were two plays where she came right out on the girl, she didn’t hesitate at all.”

The Tigers remained aggressive on offense despite their three goal lead and were awarded five penalty corners in the final seven minutes.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game” Hughes said. “It’s OK to have a loss at this point in the season. It gives us a chance to focus on some things that we maybe want to tweak or approach a little bit differently.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.