AYER — The Ayer girls soccer team was planted firmly on the District bubble when it entered Monday afternoon’s match-up against Narragansett with a 4-5 record. The Lady Panthers’ chances of extending its season took a hit when the Warriors came in and gained a 1-1 tie.
“This is a tie that feels like a loss,” said Ayer coach Justin Carlson. “I think we overlooked this game and the girls weren’t ready to play. We came into this game unprepared to play and this is a very disappointing result. We were never able to get into a flow.”
The ball moved up and down the field consistently as the game got underway but neither team was able to consistently challenge the other net as both defenses played solidly and confidently. Ayer received quality work in the defensive end from Sarah Megan, Andrea Zhou and Hayley Wilcox, while Narragansett’s Raegan Mulherin, Bianca Batallas and Cassie Bergeron answered the call at the other end of the field.
The first scoring chance of the game came two minutes in when Ayer’s Jenna Carrillo fired a hard right wing shot that was stopped by Narragansett goaltender Jonel Theabeault.
Two minutes later, Narragansett’s Lindsey Hastings took a lead pass and broke in alone past the Ayer defense, but Megan used great catch-up speed to break the chance up.
The Lady Panthers received strong efforts up front from Jordan Sedor and Katie Poitras, and the home team just missed taking the lead at 10 minutes when Poitras sent a pass to Michelle Gardner, whose testing 15-yard shot was stopped by Theabeault.
Just past the midway point of the first half, Ayer had another quality chance when Sedor sent a pass to Gardner, whose hard shot was tipped wide of the post by Theabeault.
Ayer continued to mount offensive pressure and were denied by a goal-saving play by the Narragansett defense three minutes later. Sedor rolled a shot toward an open net, but Mulherin sliced in and kicked the ball out of danger to keep the scoreless tie intact.
Narragansett, which owned a 4-3 edge in shots on goal over the first 40 minutes, took the lead at 30:48 when Batallas ripped a hard shot from right wing under the cross bar, and that 1-0 lead held up as the teams went to intermission.
The Lady Panthers had the first quality scoring chance in the second half, but Senor 20-yard shot was just wide of the left post three minutes in. Narragansett then started to put the pressure on as the Warriors worked hard for an insurance goal.
At 10 minutes, Rachel Provencher fired a hard, skidding shot that was stopped by Ayer goaltender Charlene Garrett.
Five minutes later, Provencher made a strong right wing run, cut in toward the net and ripped a shot that was stopped by Garrett at the post.
Ayer had established little offensively in the second half and called a timeout at the 26 minute mark. Less than four minutes later the Lady Panthers tied things up. Poitras sent a well-placed lead diagonal pass to Sedor, who went shoulder-to-shoulder with a Narragansett defender. The junior Ayer forward finally shook loose and sent a hard shot inside the left post to make it 1-1.
That would be the final Ayer shot on goal in the contest as the Lady Panthers were outshot 7-3 in the second half. Narragansett had the final two shots on goal, both stopped by Garrett, but the key defensive play came from Megan. In the final minute, she caught up to Provencher to break up a potential breakaway and cement the tie.
“Charlene Garrett did a good job of making the saves she was supposed to,” said Carlson. “Jordan Sedor worked very hard up front and created a number of chances, while Andrea Zhou and Sarah Megan played good games defensively.”