MONMOUTH — For the first time this season, the Hall-Dale girls soccer team was playing from behind.

Trailing 2-1 in the second half, the Bulldogs responded and pulled out a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Monmouth/Winthrop thanks to a pair of late goals from Marie Benoit.

“It was just really, really fun,” said Benoit, who scored all three of her team’s goals. “I just love our team a lot. We had a really good second half.”

It was the biggest test so far for the Bulldogs (8-0-0), the top team in Class C South. Entering the game, Hall-Dale had not allowed a goal in its first seven games. It had scored 55.

Both teams battled in the midfield during the first half, but entering the second half, the Bulldogs delivered crisper passes and had better touches. Hall-Dale put tremendous offensive pressure on Monmouth/Winthrop and with 25 minutes left in the game, Benoit clipped a shot off the top right crossbar that landed into the net to tie the game 2-2.

“I think it was kind of a game-changer to get that goal,” Benoit said. “It kind of gave us that momentum to dominate the second half.”

Then with four minutes remaining, Benoit nailed a shot into the back left corner to give Hall-Dale the lead, 3-2.

“They just (fought back) a possession at a time,” Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins said. “We started winning more 50-50 balls. That’s key. Getting to the ball first and us having control is so much different than playing back and letting them turn and take it to us. That was a huge difference. We have this old saying, ‘hard work beats skill, and skill doesn’t work hard.'”

Hall-Dale’s Lucy Gray, left, battles Monmouth/Winthrop defender Averie Silva for the ball during a Mountain Valley Conference soccer game Tuesday at Monmouth Academy. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Hall-Dale jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, when Benoit took a Hayden Madore pass and fired a shot into the net for a goal. But Monmouth/Winthrop (7-2-1) answered five minutes later when Elsa Goeble-Bain finished an excellent cross from Megan Ham to even the score at 1-1.

The Mustangs took the lead late in the first half, when Izzy Hamann connected on a cross to Brooklyn Federico, who buried a shot for for a 2-1 lead.

“The first two goals were great goals,” Monmouth/Winthrop head coach Gary Trafton said. “Cross on the back side, we stepped in and got it.”

“We came out strong (in the first half), battled well. We got the first goal, which is always a really important thing for us,” Hall-Dale head coach Guy Cousins said. “We always talk about the five minute goal. The first five of the half, five minutes after scoring a goal. What they forget about is, we can let down, too, and let them back in. So they got a five minute goal on us. That second one was a five minute for them. So, I said ‘Ok, this isn’t the way we want to be playing right now. How can we build the tempo, how can we control the style and the pace of play?'”

It was the second time this season the teams had met, with Hall-Dale edging Monmouth/Winthrop 2-0 on Sept. 16 in Farmingdale. Cousins praised the Mustangs’ tough style of play.

“Every Trafton team is going to be fit, they’re going to be physical and they’re going to play you 50-50 balls,” Cousins said. “If you’re not ready mentally to play that way, you’re in trouble.”

Added Trafton: “(Hall-Dale) just beat us to the ball in the second half. When you do that with a team that can pass, you’re not taking anything away from them, you’re just setting things up.”

 

Dave Dyer – 621-5640

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Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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