Torrential downpours lasted throughout the Lady Panthers 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the visiting Clinton Lady Gaels. Conditions were fit for four-wheeling, not soccer, but nonetheless, both teams drudged on through the muddy slop.
Kick-off didn't come until 3:30, a half-hour later than the scheduled start time, forcing the MIAA match officials to shave off five minutes from each half. The Ayer girls, like their male counterparts, wore pink socks to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Lady Gaels would strike first on a goal by Eileen Duggan in the 14th minute, giving Clinton an early 1-0 lead. Laura Hazel made the shot possible with a beautiful through-ball fed in on the far left side.
Clinton would not look back, continuing to push the tempo and shifting into cruise control for the remainder of the match. The Ayer-Shirley Lady Panthers did have their chances, but they were few and far between. First-year keeper Melissa Belanger was tested quite often. Although she let five shots go through, she was holding her own between the pipes and made some quality stops.
The Gaels rippled the mesh for the second time in the half on a goal by Meghan O'Malley in the 34th minute, with the assist going to Hazel, her second on the afternoon. The half ended with the Lady Gaels out in front by a score of 2-0.
Ayer got on the board in the 52nd minute on their lone goal of the day by senior midfielder Amber Thompson, which cut the deficit to 3-1. The
Captain Ginger Gamelin had a solid performance at the midfield. She had a handful of chances inside the 18-yard box, but she was unable to cash in.
After the half, the flood gates opened, both figuratively and literally, as the Gaels ripped off three more goals in the second. The first goal of the second half came from Caroline Elsworly, unassisted in the 46th minute. Hazel would strike twice in a row for the Gaels, first in the 65th minute, and the second in the 70th minute as the Gaels led 5-1, putting the game well out of reach.
The Ayer-Shirley Lady Panthers drop to 0-7, as the Lady Gaels move to 4-6.
Ayer-Shirley girls' head coach Justin Carlson commented on his team's loss to Clinton Wednesday afternoon. "The opportunities they had they cashed in on. We had some scoring opportunities. We kicked it right at the goalie. We have a very young team," said Carlson. "I thought they played hard, we're a little bit thin with injuries, but Clinton outplayed us. Laura Hazel in the middle is as good as it gets. It wasn't really an effort thing, but the girls are working hard. We're not there yet, but hopefully we'll get there soon."