GARDINER — Throughout the first half and early in the second, the scoring opportunities were there for the Gardiner girls soccer team but they couldn’t put the ball in the net.

But the Tigers never wavered, and their persistence finally paid off with a late goal from Catherine Mansir, giving Gardiner a 1-0 win over Leavitt in a Class B season opener Thursday afternoon at Hoch Field.

“It’s really great (to win the opener),” said Mansir, a sophomore forward.

Mansir scored the lone goal for the Tigers (1-0-0) with 9:39 remaining in the game, finding a loose ball in a scrum in front of the net, and knocked it with just enough juice to escape past Leavitt goalkeeper Jamie Ellis for the score.

“It just got a little confusing (in the scrum), it came in off a corner,” Mansir said. “I just got a foot on it and it kind of just snuck through.”

The goal capped a solid effort put forth by Gardiner, one which showed solid passing throughout, garnering several potential scoring opportunities but an inability to finish. The Tigers outshot the Hornets by an 11-3 margin.


“Especially in the second half, to see us pull together so much of what we’ve been working on in the preseason, to see the girls work together and encourage each other, it was awesome,” Gardiner head coach Jessica Prince said. “The main message at halftime was, the way we finished the first half is how we wanted to contine the game. We talked about what was working, adjustments to make and the girls went out there and did it and did it really well.”

Any opportunity Leavitt (0-1-0) may have had offensively was thwarted by Gardiner goalkeeper Taylor Takatsu, who played aggressively in net. She made two saves to earn the shutout.

Leavitt’s Michaela Harrington, left, and Gardiner’s Lainey Cooley fight for a ball during a girls soccer game Thursday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Our defense (this season) is pretty strong and they don’t let up,” said Takatsu, a senior. “Our offense can put together a bunch of passes to put together a pretty sequence whenever they feel like it. There’s always doubts, there’s doubts on every team, but this team goes from downs to wicked, epic highs in an instant.”

Though the Tigers started the season against a Class B South opponent — Gardiner’s former conference — it was the first game for the group as a Class B North program. Both Gardiner and Erskine made the conference switch this fall.

“When you look at B North, they’re just as competitive (as B South) and I’m really looking forward to the (former) crossovers that are regular games for us now,” Prince said. “I’m excited for it. I think we’re going to compete well with some of the teams that are there.”

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