NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE/ED NISER
From left, Ayer Shirley players Taryn Manna and Emily Cuoco battle for the ball during Monday night’s loss at Clinton.
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CLINTON — Ayer Shirley controlled possession for much of Monday night’s match at Clinton, but it could not transfer its midfield play to scoring opportunities, as it fell to the Gaels, 2-0. at the Clinton Veteran Memorial Athletic Complex.

The Panthers drop to 3-3-2 overall and 2-3-2 in Mid Wach D play.

Ayer Shirley had a 6-2 edge in first-half shots, but the Gaels made the most of their limited scoring opportunities, as senior Megan O’Malley blasted a bender from 32-yards out that went inside the top-right angle of the net over the outstretched hands of Ayer Shirley goalkeeper Natalie Carroll in the 24th minute.

O’Malley scored the second Clinton goal late in the match in the 73rd minute on a running header inside the 18-yard box to put the game out of reach for Ayer Shirley.

“We had a lot of opportunities tonight, but unfortunately we could not make anything of them,” Ayer Shirley head coach Justin Carlson said. “I think our defenders did a good job keeping us in this game. It was not for a lack of effort. The girls competed for a full 80 minutes. The chemistry is lacking right now, but it will come with practice and more experience.”

Ayer Shirley had a prime opportunity to take the lead early in the match when Tori Cuoco found Hailie Young on a clean path to the cage. But, Young failed to get her shot off in time, as Clinton goalie Ellie Moscillo came out and met Young’s shot at the top of the 18-yard box.

The Panther defense kept the Gaels off the board for much of the first half.

Ayer Shirley continued to press forward in the second half, seeking the ever-elusive equalizing goal. Midfielder Cayla Justice took a crack at goal with 15:42 remaining, but it skimmed just wide left. Taryn Manna had a bid later in the half, but her shot was booted out of the danger zone by Moscillo (10 saves)

Carlson was impressed with his back line’s performance.

“I thought Tori (Cucco) did a nice job for us defensively,” he said. “She had a tough task of defending Megan O’Malley, who is one of the best scorers in our league. We knew that Clinton’s core group has been together for four years. We just have to turn it around and get better for Wednesday and Thursday against Murdock and Parker.”

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