ORLEANS - A brand new coaching staff and an early deficit couldn't stop the Lake Region girls varsity soccer team, who picked up a 2-1 victory over Otter Valley Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the Division II championship tournament.
Senior striker Lauren Nesshoever took advantage of an early lapse in No. 4 Lake Region's defensive unit. Nesshoever pocked a give-and-go 10 minutes into the match to give the No. 13 seeded Otters an early edge.
It was exactly the wake-up call the Rangers needed. Lake Region dominated the remainder of the contest, first on the offense end, and later with key stops late in the second half to hold on for a quarterfinal berth.
"The girls didn't quit, and they could have early because of how many times they hit the crossbar," said co-coach Eric Degre. "But they didn't.
"It's easy to stay down after you're down, but the girls chose not too, and they just kept fighting."
Lake Region found their first goal with 24:29 to play in the first half, this on a strike from sophomore Tyrah Urie. The ball found the cross bar and then Otter Valley's keeper's chest before finally hitting the net.
The goal, Urie's 23rd of the year, evened the score, and more important gave them back the momentum lost in the game's first 10 minutes.
Just before the half, senior back Ashley Locke struck for the Rangers.
Locke's direct kick from 30 yards out sailed over Otter Valley's wall and into the net for a 2-1 lead with 1:56 to go before halftime.
The second half was a different story for both squads, as missed opportunities riddled the majority of the first 30 minutes.
A composed fourth-seed held strong late, withstanding a fury of shots in the game's closing minutes to seal the victory.
"I think it took us some time to really understand what Otter Valley was all about offensively," said Degre. "But once we figured that out, we were able to take advantage.
"Sarah Burnham and the rest of our defense cleared out any ball that came their way, while (Corrina) Cota marked up (Nesshoever) and held her without a shot for the rest of the game."
Lake Region's next game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. in Orleans.
The Rangers (12-3) host No. 5 Mount Abraham (9-4-2), who knocked off No. 12 Mill River 3-0 in their playdown match Wednesday.
"You can only control how much energy you put into it," said Degre. "Today their energy was right where it needed to be for us to come out on top."
The ladies of Lake Region will need to match that level if their to earn a berth in next week's Division II semi finals.