MONMOUTH — After a first half largely devoid of on-target shots, Monmouth finally found the frame in the second half.

Only one of those shots went in, but that was enough for the Mustangs to come away with a 1-0 victory over Spruce Mountain in a Mountain Valley Conference girls’ soccer clash at Chick Memorial Athletic Field on Wednesday.

Audrey Fletcher took a cross from Alicen Burnham and dribbled in from the right side before firing under Phoenix (6-4) goalie Annabelle Collins 8:43 into the second half for the only goal of the game.

“We talked about that, crossing the ball early. And that’s how it started,” Monmouth coach Gary Trafton said. “We crossed it (to the right), and Audrey had that break in there.”

A feed from Burnham in the opening seconds of the game nearly netted the Mustangs (7-1) a goal, but Anna Lewis’ kick curled wide and just out of the reach of a running Megan Ham.

It was a sign of things to come in the first half for the Mustangs, who could only muster one shot on goal. That came on another cross from Burnham, which missed the intended target Fletcher, but Abbie Crawford was able to get a shot at Collins.

The Phoenix were able to aim their shots at Monmouth goalie Emma Johnson in the first half, but Johnson stopped all four of them, including a pair from Emily Baker and one each by Jaycee Cole and Margo Kenyon. Baker’s second shot forced Johnson to make a punching save with 1:45 left before halftime.

“Triangle passing, communication, that all leads to good things,” Phoenix coach Bill Acritelli said. “You know, it opens it up.”

Trafton lamented his team’s inability to win its own goal kicks in the first half.

“We were five for 17 on our goal kicks. And both girls were kicking the balls out far enough, but we just weren’t getting to the ball. And if you can’t get it out of your end, you don’t create any offense,” Trafton said. “And so I stressed five for 17, and that killed us. And then they just picked it up and played harder.”

Acritelli also noticed a different Mustangs team after halftime.

“The second half, I think Monmouth came out with a little bit more fire,” Acritelli said.

Fletcher’s goal came on the Mustangs’ third on-target shot of the half, and they finished the final 40 minutes with 12 shots at Collins, who made 12 saves in the game.

“They just kept playing hard, and you know, all you got to do is one make one mistake and it’s a tie game, and I think the girls realized that, and they do play hard,” Trafton said.

The Phoenix could only get two more shots on Johnson after halftime, and finished with six total for the game.

“With only four subs on the bench, you know, 80 minutes is a lot of running,” Acritelli said. “I was hoping to get to the equalizer, or at least stay 0-0, so we could get to extra time.”


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