High schools: Concord girls’ soccer opens season with 3-0 win over Pembroke

  • Pembroke’s Katelyn Armstrong jumps over Concord senior goalkeeper Emily Mickelson as she makes a save during the first half on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Pembroke Katelyn Armstrong jumps over Concord senior goalkeeper Emily Mickelson as she makes a save during the first half on Friday afternoon, September 18, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke’s Lindsay Hawkins (left) battles Concord’s Whitney Vaillant during the first half on Friday afternoon at Memorial Field in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord’s Whitney Vaillant (3) and Avery Fitcher celebrate a second-half goal against Pembroke on Friday afternoon. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/19/2020 4:24:29 PM

So much of the scene at Memorial Field in Concord on Friday afternoon was unfamiliar.

Players warming up in masks, spectators (home fans only) also masked and socially distant, a match up between a Division I and Division II team to open the season, and plenty of new faces in both starting lineups.

But once the masks were lowered and the rust had shaken off, the Concord girls’ soccer team was playing its familiar brand of soccer, moving the ball quickly and playing efficiently in the attacking third to open the season with a 3-0 victory over Pembroke.

While the Tide was happy to get the win and the Spartans were hoping for a better result, in truth both teams were happy just to be on the pitch given the recent case of COVID-19 at Concord High School.

“It was definitely an interesting leadoff to the season,” fourth-year Tide head coach Phil Tuttle said. “We weren’t able to practice (Thursday). So many things are worked out in preseason. This was really our first time playing together.”

For all the talk of nerves and strange circumstances, the Tide looked sharp early on, crashing the net and scoring its first goal just over three minutes into the match.

Freshmen forward Whitney Vaillant made a nice cross from the left flank into the center of the box that junior Tyler Harrington shot toward the net at Pembroke junior goalkeeper Brooke Davison (four saves), who made the initial block. But junior Mary Martinson was right there to chip the rebound inside the near goalpost for a quick 1-0 lead.

“We learned that Concord can crash the net,” said Pembroke’s Jess Kaufman, who is in her 11th year as the Spartans’ head coach. “They can capitalize on a rogue ball in the box.”

The Pembroke defense tightened up for the rest of the first half, with junior center back Anna Harlow and junior defensive midfielder Britney Hill breaking up crosses and deep runs in the back from Concord midfielder Caroline Quirk and Martinson.

Both teams ended the first half with three shots on net, with Spartan junior Adrienne Dorr creating many opportunities up top for Pembroke.

Senior defenders Kaylie LeBlanc and Lindsay Hawkins played well, as did freshman Carly Wood in the midfield and new sophomore Katelyn Armstrong up top.

“We had a very sloppy first half,” Tuttle said. “Obviously, it’s always great to score early, but overall we didn’t play our style in the first half, but made some adjustments at halftime.”

The adjustments paid off quickly, with Martinson making a run up the right flank and crossing to sophomore midfielder Avery Fitcher, who hit a low shot to the far post from the top of the box. Davison made the diving save with her outstretched fingertips, but Vaillant was all over the rebound to score her first varsity goal in the 46th minute.

Less than two minutes later, Harrington was taken down inside the box and junior defender Chloe Morgan scored the penalty kick for a 3-0 lead.

“There was some anxiousness and nerves in the first half, but in the second half it came together a bit more,” Tuttle said. “We made some good passes and moved the ball well.”

Pembroke kept the ball in Concord’s third of the field for longer periods of time late in the second half, thanks to the play of junior midfielder Cierra Hill, but the Spartans couldn’t get a shot on Concord’s senior goalkeeper Emily Mickelson (three saves) in the second half.

“It can be hard when you’re playing from behind so early,” Kaufman said. “But we started to string together some nice plays and combinations ... Hearing Concord’s practice was cancelled yesterday made us nervous. We thought we might not be able to play. Starting this season against a D-I opponent was going to be a good challenge for us. The girls had their heads up at halftime, and they now know what they need to work out.”

Mickelson did a good job to earn a clean sheet in her varsity debut. She is taking over between the posts for 2020 graduate Autumn Nudd, the Tide’s starting goalie for the previous three seasons.

“Our keeper the last three years did a really good job for us, but Emily has worked really hard for us the last year and half to get ready for this role,” Tuttle said. “She didn’t have to make a lot of saves, but did she what she needed to do and grew more comfortable throughout the game. It’s a great start for her.”

Vaillant was another new face who impressed Tuttle with her performance.

“Coming in and playing the way she did today was huge for us,” Tuttle said. “Sometimes a freshman will be impressive in tryouts, but then ride the bench. (Vaillant) made an immediate impact.”

Junior back Caley Nault was also impressive in her varsity debut, anchoring the middle of the Tide’s defense alongside returning junior Chloe Morgan, a tandem that Tuttle calls “potentially the best center backs in the state.”

Fitcher and another newcomer, senior defender Alexis Adams, also played well in their first varsity stints.

Concord also has a few staples of its program returning, including Martinson.

“This was a bit of her coming-out party,” Tuttle said. “She’s been a strong player for us for the past two years, but this year is where the league can see what kind of player she really is. She’ll create a lot of opportunities up top.”

Senior defensive midfielder Allison Yanski, a four-year member of the varsity squad, stepped up when senior midfielder Abigail Dickson (another returning starter) left the game due to a leg injury.

Harrington, a forward, and senior defender Lillian Rienstra are the other returning starters for the Tide.

“It was a unique situation today, and our next game against MV is very similar,” Tuttle said. “They’re a (D-II) team we don’t normally play. For us, it was just about going out and doing the best we can showing what we have.”

Boys' Soccer

Concord 7, Pembroke 0

Key players: Concord – Alasdair Ferrier (5 goals, set program scoring record), Abbas Abdulrahman (goal, split shutout), Baruani Lukuse (goal), Jacque Tunguru (2 assists), Nicholas DiBuono (defense), Max Leahy (split shutout).

Highlights/key moments: Ferrier scored five goals in the season-opening match to set the Tide’s program record for the most career goals.

Coach’s quote: “Solid performance to start the season. Very pleased with the way we moved the ball in the second half.” – Concord’s Scott Dunlop.

Field Hockey

Concord 7, Pembroke 0

Key players: Concord – Jordan Cromwell (2 goals, assist), Gaby Pimentel (2 goals) Amy Cohen (2 goals), Emma Beaujouan (goal), Maria Armaganian (assist), Alice Rosenberg (assist), Kait McKinnon (assist); Pembroke – Janelle Gagnon (defense), Lilly Curtis (midfield).

Highlights: The Tide took advantage of its opportunities early, breaking through Pembroke’s defense for four goals in the opening quarter to secure the season-opening victory. Gagnon was the best player for the Spartans, leading a spirited defensive effort and Curtis provided a spark in the midfield off the bench.

Coach’s quote: “The start was disappointing, but as the game progressed we played with more effort and confidence as we held Concord to just one goal in the second half and had a few chances of our own. Hopefully we can carry that effort into our next match.” – Pembroke’s Steve Langevin.

Bishop Brady 7, Conant 2

Key players: Bishop Brady – Libbey Hicks (2 goals), Rebecca Murphy (2 goals), Halle Laramie (2 goals, assist), Riley Marsh (goal, assist), Sheehan (assist), Jillian Weaver (assist), Ashlyn Toupin (assist), Jule Blais (save); Conant – Teagon Kirby (2 goals).

Highlights: The first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie, but the Giants scored two goals in the second quarter and netted three more in the third for a decisive win in the season-opening match.

Coach’s quote: “Beautiful day and grateful to be playing! This was the first time together in a game since Nov. 3, 2019. Things came together eventually towards the end of the second quarter as they remembered how to work together again. A good start for the team.” – Bishop Brady’s Kelly Owen.


Concord 208, Bow 215,
Bishop Brady 283

Key players: Bow – Matt Lamy (41), Cam Evans (42), Hunter Duncan (43), Eli Wilkening (43).

Coach’s quote: “The course played tough with strong winds and quick green speeds. Our players worked all day. Lamy played great and it was nice to see our young guys playing well too.” – Bow’s Matt Davis.

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