MADISON — Eight minutes from full time, Lauren Hay had given up on trying to make a clean save.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it. I just tried to dive and hit it out of bounds,” the senior goalkeeper for the Madison girls soccer team said. “I was hoping for a corner (kick) instead of it going in.”

Hay did just what she intended, using a six-save effort to preserve a 2-0 Mountain Valley Conference win Thursday, as Madison handed Oak Hill its first loss of the season.

Both teams are now 11-1-0, the Raiders having been shut out for the first time this fall in the face of a revamped Madison formation.

“This is a bit unusual for us,” Oak Hill coach Jeremy Young said. “In some ways, it’s good to get it over with. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being perfect. While it’s a fun ride while it lasts, having that sort of past us now we can look at some other things.”

Madison made a point to get started early, a promise to themselves they made sure to see through. Senior striker Sydney LeBlanc scored in the 14th minute, and senior midfielder Ashley Emery added the second goal 20 minutes later.


“I was surprised,” LeBlanc said of the number of chances the Bulldogs were able to carve out for themselves. “Their defense is definitely the best defense we’ve played all season. We were spreading (the ball) wide and then coming through the middle. We practice it every day in practice.”

LeBlanc took a great feed right through the heart of the Oak Hill back line, going in 1-v-1 for an easy finish and a 1-0 lead.

“It was really important,” LeBlanc said. “We knew we had to keep our intensity up. This is the biggest game, or the second biggest game, of our season so we really had to play our best game.”

Emery’s goal came when she found the gap between the back line and the midfield, stepping into a high curling shot from 30 yards out in the 34th minute.

Oak Hill responded after the halftime break, applying pressure in a short burst, but Madison — putting together its most complete outing of the season — recovered and answered with three dangerous back-post chances in the first 12 minutes of the period.

Instead of a 3-4-3, Madison opted for a 4-3-3 lineup against Oak Hill, dropping midfielder Whitney Bess into the role of sweeper back to defend against the Raiders’ propensity to capitalize on their team speed with long balls over the back line.


Oak Hill was limited to 10 shots in the contest, half of those on goal.

For just the second time this season, Oak Hill surrendered two goals to the opposition.

“It gave our defense a chance to just do what they do well, which is control the middle of the field and get the ball to our offense,” Madison co-coach Mike Walsh said of the formation change. “Sometimes we struggle with the breakaway, but we were able to manage that.”

The Bulldogs found avenues through the wide channels in the midfield to produce second-half chances. Though they were unable to push a third goal over the line, the effort was enough to put the Raiders back on their heels.

In the 59th minute, Oak Hill’s Sydney Drew cleanly picked the pocket of Bess, but her point-blank chance from inside 10 yards was robbed by a hand save from Hay.

“(Hay) did a really nice job last year, but she’s improved since then,” Walsh said. “She works hard at the position, and she’s come up with a lot of big saves for us. You saw a couple of them today.”


Thirteen minutes later, Eliza Whisenant found space against the run of play, but Hay’s athletic desperation save on Whisenant’s shot from inside the 18-yard box pushed the ball wide of goal for a corner kick. The Bulldogs then cleared that corner out of harm’s way.

“We had a few good chances. One of those, I thought was going to be buried,” Young said. “Soccer’s like that sometimes.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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