Carthage coach Marty Weaver has been encouraging his girls soccer team to finish off the opposition when the opportunity presents itself.
Junior forward Bryanna Gagnon and her teammates did just that on Monday night with a victory against Immaculate Heart Central after settling for a tie against the Cavaliers in the first meeting this season.
Gagnon scored the deciding goal in the 94th minute as Carthage edged past IHC 2-1 in a Frontier League A Division game on a frosty evening.
We wanted to finish what we started after the first game, Gagnon said. This was a very physical game.
With the victory, the Comets improved to 4-3-1, including 4-2-1 in the league, and maintained a share of the division lead with Watertown, which defeated General Brown, 1-0 on Monday.
For me, I havent really thought much about us being tied for first, Carthage coach Marty Weaver said. IHC is a good rival and weve had some close games, so its nice to come away with a win. But I think mostly, its nice to see us finishing a game well. Thats something weve been talking about and working on sometimes we havent finished. So to win like this is what Im really excited about.
With both teams battling to a 1-1 deadlock through regulation and after a scoreless first overtime period, both sides appeared headed to another draw as the two tied 1-1 in the league opener for both Sept. 4.
That was before Carthage finished off a prime chance in the second extra session to close out the Cavaliers.
Gagnon collected in the ball off a free kick from teammate Cassie Birth, sped down the left wing and beat goalie Skylar Short with a drive into the left side of the net with 6:44 remaining in the second overtime.
She was just in the right place at the right time, Weaver said of Gagnon. Shes been like that all year and hasnt been able to finish much, but tonight she did it. She had one earlier tonight, but she hit it right at the keeper and she came back and made up for it with this one.
Junior goalkeeper Becky Brandal made four saves to record the win for the Comets.
Yet it was Carthages team effort on defense led by senior defenders Doria Darroch and Alexis Wallace and juniors Morgan Miller and Emily Busch which shut down IHC when it counted most.
Were learning to play a system we havent played before, Weaver said of his teams defense. So each game is just a little bit of a learning experience for us. Different teams play different styles and its about how we adjust.
After the Cavaliers produced several scoring chances in the final minutes of the second half, they were unable to generate any shots in overtime.
I thought we played very well tonight, IHC coach Kurt Robbins said. But they were able to get that ball over the top and they scored. It was a pretty even game other than that. ... Were a very young team, but we still had our chances.
Junior goalie Short was credited with 18 saves for IHC (1-5-2, 1-4-1) to keep the score tied for most of the game.
IHC took an early 1-0 lead as Brandal made a save on Charisse LaPointe, but Rachel Chamberlain was there to boot the rebound past the goalie in the games sixth minute.
We gave up that early goal, which tends to be our thing right now, Weaver said. We always seem to come from behind to win games. But we settled in and started to play together and it was nice to see.
Freshman forward Rebekah Zehr, who leads the team in scoring, followed with the tying tally with an unassisted effort as she worked her way down the left side and placed a drive into the right side of the IHC goal in the eighth minute.
This is a big deal, Gagnon said. In my freshman year we were tied for first as well as we had a hard loss against Watertown. So its good to be in first place again.
The Comets, unbeaten against A Division foes at 3-0-1, have five league games remaining on their schedule and close their regular season by hosting Watertown at 6 p.m. on Oct. 9.