TOWNSHEND -- It was long overdue, but the lady Rebels got their first win of the season Saturday against Woodstock, as the Leland and Gray varsity girls soccer team beat the Yellowjackets, 4-3.
After tying their season opener and losing two previous matchups, Rebel forward Giannina Gaspero-Beckstrom said her team’s victory was well-deserved, but they had to be patient, and earn it.
"It was good to get the win we’ve been fighting for all season," said the sophomore, who had the team’s first goal unassisted from the top of the box, just a few minutes into play.
Maintaining a one-point lead at the break, the Rebs looked sturdy going into the next half. That perception would soon change.
"Woodstock is a great team," said Leland and Gray coach Lucas Bates. "It would have been nice to keep the lead we had and not have to worry, but Woodstock stepped it up, so we had to battle. We were fortunate we had just as many breakaways."
Woodstock’s Kate Leavitt seized an opportunity, and broke through a line of worn-down Rebel defenders to put away the Yellowjacket’s first net at the beginning of the second half.
But Gaspero-Beckstrom answered back with her second goal, assisted by Emily Stockwell, approaching Woodstock keeper Lizzy Miller from the left lane this time.
After Haley Buffum properly dished out a slide tackle to an encroaching Woodstock, the Rebels kicked it downfield to
This gave Leland and Gray some breathing room. Which was good, because they were about to breathe a lot harder.
Woodstock changed up their offense, sending mid-forward Lauren Kaija to the frontline, where the freshman blasted the ball into the bottom right corner. Leavitt would score again right after that drive to make it 3-3.
Just when it seemed that Leland and Gray was out of steam as the Yellowjackets fought to stage a comeback, Stevie Roberts came out of nowhere after picking up a Nystrom pass, to strike for the Rebel’s final goal.
"It was a back and forth game," said Woodstock coach Greg LaBella. "It was unfortunate to lose on restarts."
In the remaining minutes of the Josh Cole Tournament second-round thriller, Woodstock made numerous strives to capitalize on a tired Rebel defense, but keeper Elizabeth Gallup denied all attempts, including a miraculous block that saved the game as the clock widdled down. She would finish the afternoon with six saves.
Gallup had plenty of support from defender Ashley Goddard, who sent the ball flying down the right line with seconds left, which bought Leland and Gray enough time to stay ahead.
"The team’s heart is different this year," said Bates. "It’s something I worked with the girls on in the preseason -- getting them to believe in themselves."
David Aquino can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.