Gardiner forward Abigail Cooley, left, congratulates teammate Maya Shaw after Shaw scored a goal against Cony in a girls soccer match Tuesday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — The Gardiner girls soccer team entered its game Tuesday against rival Cony looking for an offensive spark.

The Tigers found it — and much more.

Gardiner (3-3-0) cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Rams (0-5-1) at Hoch Field. Freshman Catherine Mansir netted a hat trick for the Tigers. Maya Shaw, Abby Cooley and Taylor Takatsu also scored.

“I think our team put a lot of good plays together,” Mansir said. “It made it easy for me and other people who scored to put it in the back of the net. It was really just the people who made the passes that made it happen.”

Prior to the rout Tuesday, Gardiner had scored just one goal in each of its previous three games, going 0-3 during the stretch. Against Cony, the Tigers managed to keep the offensive pressure on from start to finish.

“A lot of the games we’ve been playing lately, that’s what’s been missing, finishing (offensively),” Gardiner head coach Jessica Prince said. “It’s nice to have a game where (we have) a few different people scoring and finally getting the finishing back on track.”


Gardiner’s Catherine Mansir, left, and Cony’s Dinah Wadleigh fight for the ball during a girls soccer game Tuesday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Tigers managed to get into scoring mode early against the Rams. Maya Shaw put Gardiner up 1-0 about 12 minutes into the contest, taking an excellent pass from Sophia Marrone in front of the net and nailing it home.

Mansir scored her first goal with 15 minutes left in the first half, off a pass from Marrone, who finished with three assists. Gardiner took a 2-0 lead into halftime.

Mansir scored the next two goals for the Tigers — one from Takatsu, the other unassisted — to put Gardiner up 4-0. Cooley and Takatsu each scored in the final two minutes of play.

“Ball movement and quickness has kind of been the focus for us,” Prince said. “It’s one of those things where you see a nice goal and go, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’ But if you look a few passes before, you can see (the play) kind of evolving, and that’s what we’ve been looking for, for it to evolve out of the backfield. I think that’s the piece that’s been missing. It’s not only (scoring opportunities), but good looks that come from good soccer leading up to it. It’s nice to have that.”

Gardiner’s Lainey Cooley (6) and Cony’s Ayanna Gooneskere make contact during a girls soccer game Tuesday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Gardiner’s offensive pressure essentially served as its defense against Cony, though Mansir noted that the defense has been a strength this season.

“Our defense is pretty good at locking things down,” Mansir said. “We have good transitioning up to the top to play to the offense to try to score. And our center-(midfielder) is good at distributing the ball.”

For Cony, the game was a building block in a season of transition. Of the Rams’ 23 players, 12 are freshmen. Despite the outcome, freshman goalkeeper Abby Brown played well against a heavy attack from Gardiner.

“We’re a young team with a building program,” Cony head coach Victoria Fowler said. “Today was just inconsistency with their training and how much they’ve played soccer, and how much they know soccer. They always put the effort in, they always really try, so we can play better – and we will play better — as the season goes on.”

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