AYER -- After opening its season with a bang by scoring five goals against St. Bernard's, Ayer-Shirley could not avoid a letdown Monday afternoon at home against Parker Charter.
The Ayer-Shirley Lady Panthers' defense held the Parker Charter Lady Panthers scoreless through one half, but a couple of defensive meltdowns in the final 40 minutes proved costly.
"We came off a good win on Wednesday against St. Bernard's and we were just really unable to get anything going offensively," head coach Justin Carlson said. "I don't know how many shots we got on net, but I thought our midfield kept us in the game."
Holly Caires gave Ayer-Shirley its first quality chance with 35:04 remaining in the opening frame. Caires took a feed from sophomore forward Hailie Young and curled it inwards toward Parker goaltender Alanna Giardin. Giardin ranged to her right and made a stellar leaping save.
Parker Charter midfielder Ranya Basma had an exceptional chance at net but Ayer-Shirley goaltender Melissa Belanger stymied the ball from sneaking in the far post in the 17th minute.
Parker Charter striker Shannon Tucker had consecutive chances to cash in at goal but Belanger, despite being baited off her line, managed to keep her composure and make the save.
Caires scooted a pass through traffic to Young, but Young was unable to properly settle the ball at her feet and sent it sailing over the crossbar.
The Ayer-Shirley midfield and defense held their ground for the remainder of the half to keep the match scoreless. Ayer-Shirley held a slight 8-6 edge in shots over Parker Charter at the end of the first.
It didn't take Parker Charter long to make the proper second-half adjustments and beat Belanger. With 38:29 left in regulation, Zayna Besma rattled home the game's first tally in transition on a hiccup defensively by Ayer-Shirley.
"There were just a couple of times down the field where we made mistakes, and they made us pay for it," Carlson said. "We went from having a scoring opportunity to them being able to play the ball right through the midfield. They played a ball over the top, and we just misplayed it."
Caires corralled a rebound in front of the cage and blasted it toward the goal line. Giardin maintained her line and dove to her left and made the tough save.
Allie Gessin poured in a slicing goal with 11 minutes remaining to put the match out of reach. Paige Senatore bombed a pass over the top to Gessin, and Gessin curled it over the head of Belanger to make it 2-nil.
Two minutes later, Ayer-Shirley had a chance at goal when Young seized possession of a deflected shot by Caires. Young's rebound opportunity haphazardly sailed over the crossbar.
At the time of publication with the loss, Ayer-Shirley drops to 2-1-0, while Parker Charter improves to 2-0-0.
"It was a good improvement from the second game," Parker Charter head coach Keith Begun said. "We filled the field and got passes to feet. We were making it difficult on ourselves to score. We had 10 shots and only one was deflected. Not to take anything away from their (Ayer-Shirley) defense, we weren't getting anything in the net. That's our fault."