ORLEANSâ The winds blew cold and hard at Ranger field on Wednesday as the Hazen girls soccer team came in and completed the season series sweep with a 2-1 win over Lake Region.
"We played great the last twenty minutes. If we can learn to play that way all the time we would be a much better team," said Coach Brad Urie, "They are a young team and I don't think they understand the type of intensity you have to bring to the field."
After winning the opening coin toss, Hazen made the easy decision to go with the wind, heading left to right down the field. At first it looked like the wind advantage would not be a factor as it was Lake Region with the first scoring opportunity on a direct kick just one minute into the game.
Nothing would come of it, and the Rangers would battle the wind and a very good soccer team the rest of the first half.
Hazen would quickly mount their attack on Ranger goalie Brooke Breault, who was back in the nets after resting her ankle during the team's previous game against Winooski on Monday.
At the 9:13 marker Caitlyn Bottiggi found Emily Barber high outside the 18 where Barber put the ball up in the air and watched the wind take the ball over the outstretched hands of Breault for the 1-0 lead.
Coach Urie, despite acknowledging the conditions, was not going to blame the elements for his team's performance.
"You have to be ready for those things. We are all playing on the same field, and we're not going to let the weather be an excuse."
Three minutes later Breault would be challenged again, this time on a penalty kick. A charging call on Lake Region led to the free kick, and with the wind at her back Hazen's Meghan Forant fired a low shot just to the left of Breault, who made the save, one of her 11 on the day, look easy.
Hazen would continue to pressure, but the Ranger defense was stingy, and the half ended at 1-0.
Shadows started creeping across the field as the two teams began the second half. Now with the wind in their favor, the Lady Rangers started to direct the play into the Hazen end.
Urie's girls had a great chance to tie the game at the 4:05 marker when Sarah Burnham fed Tyrah Urie, but she ended up ringing the ball off the cross bar.
Hazen knew that one goal was not going to be enough on this day and continued to get runs at the LR net.
Forant, who had failed to put her team up 2-0 in the first, did so in the second when she gathered a rebound and converted it for a goal.
After that it was all Lake Region.
Urie would net her 10th goal of the season to bring her team back to within one with 12:11 left on the clock, but that is as far as they would get.
Urie almost tied it up, but again found metal, this time hitting the near post with five minutes left to play.
While they are off today, the Lady Rangers' busy week will wrap up on Friday at home against Danville where a more consistent effort is going to be expected.
Game time is 4:00