TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex girls' soccer team was effective in both producing and preventing goals in a 5-0 non-league blanking of the Gardner Wildcats Thursday.
Offensively, the Patriots utilized their speed and skill up front to split the Gardner defense for two first-half goals and three more tallies over the final 40 minutes. On the defensive side, the hosts made it difficult for the Wildcats to mount any quality scoring chances through three-quarters of the contest.
"The first 15 minutes could have gone either way, but I think we broke their will a little bit with a couple of quick goals," said North Middlesex head coach Charlie Valacer, whose team improved to 1-1 after losing its season opener. "We were able to wear them down a little with our speed, and our passing was better than it was in our first game.
"We had a good game on defense. Alyssa Robinson is one of our senior captains and she was really strong back there today. She's the only one with experience (in the backfield). Hopefully we can build on this game and continue to improve as we get into league play."
Valacer also cited the efforts of senior defender Elizabeth David and freshman sweeper Samantha Donohoe, who both helped deny the visitors a shot on goal in the first half.
After a pretty evenly played opening 15 minutes (with most of the action at midfield), the Lady Patriots scored twice in a span of 27 seconds halfway through the first period to take a sudden 2-0
From there, they never looked back.
Freshman Julia Sheehan took a feed from David, sliced through Gardner defenders Leah Wihtelin and Denise Della-Giustina, and went in alone to notch the first tally at 18:31. Seconds later, at 18:58, Gabie Trust connected on another breakaway for the two-goal halftime lead, with Charlotte Spiegel getting the assist.
Scores by seniors Emily Herrick and Katherine Hall in the opening two minutes of the second half pretty much put the game away for the Patriots. With 12 minutes remaining, senior Kim Morgan netted the final tally on a long free kick from about 25 yards away -- a boot that sailed over the reach of Wildcat goalie Sam Riggins.
Though the Wildcats couldn't muster a shot on goal in the first half, forward Jordan Bernard came close to cashing in, but poked teammate Emily DePrima's centering pass just wide of the net. Gardner created some opportunities during the final 20 minutes of the game and had several chances to get on the board.
A tester from about 30 feet by Emily O'Reily was stopped by Patriot goalie Julia Murray (6 saves), who dove to her right to knock away the shot. Gardner forward Jill Savageau was later robbed by Murray on a penalty kick.
It was the season opener for Gardner head coach George Lison and his squad. Overall, Lison was pleased with his team's effort against Division 1 North Middlesex.
"(The Patriots') overall quickness and skill did us in, and those two first-half goals kind of deflated us," he said after the game. "But our girls played very hard and the hallmark of this team is it never gives up. I think I was able to come up with some (lineup) combinations. The good thing about non-league games is that you can work on finding combinations that will work for you as the season moves on and you get into league play."
North Middlesex finished with a 12-6 advantage in shots, while Gardner had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks. Riggins made seven saves in net for the Wildcats.