MILFORD – All the Milford High School girls soccer team needed was a chance.
With goalkeeper Casey Phelps stopping almost everything Hollis Brookline threw at her, the Spartans knew they needed just a window of opportunity to take Tuesday’s game.
Milford got it in the 78th minute, when Erin McGuire’s pass into the box was deflected right to Morgan Grill, who tapped the ball from her right foot to the left and found the back of the net for a 2-1 win for the Spartans.
McGuire got an assist on the goal and Phelps made 16 saves, including one right after Grill’s game-winner, to give Milford (3-1) its third win in a row.
“I think it was going to come down to who could find the momentum for 30 seconds,” Milford coach Russ Matthews said. “We made a sub, Morgan Grill came in at the top and she was there, in the right place at the right time.”
The same goes for Phelps, who gave up a goal to Hannah Modelski in the 49th minute on a shot that she had no chance of stopping. The senior keeper was in the right spot, and when she wasn’t, the Cavaliers (2-2) didn’t do themselves any favors.
“We didn’t play quick and smart (Tuesday) and the other team took advantage of a couple of opportunities,” HB coach Peter Clarke said. “We also knew (they) had a very good keeper. We put an awful lot of shots to her or near her, and she’s better than that. If anything, our accuracy was off and it hurt us.”
That was the case in the first half, when a shot by Holly Eisenberg hit the cross bar and bounced straight down to Modelski just a few feet in front of the goal. But Modelski’s shot was right at Phelps and she made the point-blank save.
“Right in her hands, waist high,” Clarke said. “That’s what I mean. We just weren’t looking up and being accurate with our finishes. An opportunistic team will step up and grab it and they did. We found the keeper a lot.”
The Cavs took a 1-0 lead on Modelski’s goal, but Milford came right back and tied it in the 55th minute on a goal by Anna Norford (assisted by Mikayla Rush).
“It’s huge to come back after something like that,” Matthews said. “We came out strong right away and then got a little flat. We always try to come out and give our best and I think we executed pretty well.”
Both teams had opportunities down the stretch, including when Phelps came out of the box and had a clearing attempt blocked, but she was able to get back before the Cavs could advance toward the goal.
Just before Grill scored the game winner, Milford’s Adelle Pitsas had a chance of her own from just inside the box, but that shot went wide of the net.
“I don’t think we were aggressive enough,” Clarke said. “We had some adjustments to make and we didn’t step up and solve that on the field.”
While the Spartans were excited about the win, Matthews was hopeful it would be a helpful lesson for down the road.
“This type of game, where you win late, it prepares us for down the road when everyone is getting better,” he said. “If we can execute in these close games here and now, it helps us further down the line.”
Milford is off until Sept. 16, when it travels to Amherst to face Souhegan.