Mahar girls soccer: Defense shines in shutout of Gateway Regional

  • Delaney Parker looks to make a play against Gateway, Tuesday in Orange. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Delaney Parker moves away from a Gateway defender, Tuesday in Orange. Visit for more photos. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Lani DeDiego fights for the ball against Gateway on Tuesday. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Lani DeDiego knocks the ball away from a Gateway defender Tuesday. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Jazmyn Vautour sets up for a clear against Gateway on Tuesday. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

  • Victoria Tenney settles the ball against Gateway Tuesday. FOR THE ATHOL DAILY NEWS/MIKE PHILLIPS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/12/2018 12:55:05 AM

ORANGE — Following a 1-0 win for the Mahar girls soccer team over Gateway Regional, keeper Marie Nottleson was quick to give her defense the credit Tuesday night.

“Our back four are doing absolutely amazing,” Nottleson said. “Honestly, this was more their shutout. I didn’t really do much.”

Nottleston did make seven saves, a pivotal one right before the half that kept the game tied before Mahar took the lead moments later.

Gateway’s Erin Harris got free of Mahar defenders and launched a shot at Nottleson, who knocked it away. Harris didn’t have an angle on the opportunity, but still directed the attempt on net.

The Senators (2-1, 2-0 Pioneer North) paid special attention to the quick and elusive Harris throughout the game, with midfielder Natalie Belloli marking her for the entire game.

“It was a selfless act,” Mahar coach Chad Softic said. “She did a heck of a job.”

Mahar overcame a somewhat sluggish first half that saw Gateway possess the ball more with more shot opportunities.

“We came out and really pressed today,” Softic said. “It wasn’t a very good effort. Especially in the first half. Our touches were awful. We were panicking with the ball.”

Everything changed for the Senators when the offense found an opening and took full advantage. After a corner kick was cleared by the Mahar defense, the ball found Mollie Burke near midfield.

Burke sent a long pass to Delaney Parker, who was galloping down the field in between Gateway defenders. Parker collected the pass and finished with 6 minutes, 4 seconds left in the first half.

“That goal was a quick counter,” Softic said. “We needed it bad. It did take some of the pressure off. We stopped pressing a little bit.”

Harris managed a breakaway in the second half, but a rushed shot went over the net for Gateway (2-1, 2-1). Toward the end of the game, Mahar kept the ball out of its own end with multiple chances around Gateway’s net.

“I think as a unit we are playing together really, really well,” Nottleson said.

Becca Herman made three saves for the Gators. In the first half, Parker turned and shot around the 18-yard line only to see Herman dive to her left to knock it away.

Although the Senators came away with a win, the first 34 minutes of the game is something Mahar will need to improve as the season progresses, according to Softic.

“We got to get back to practice,” Softic said. “We have to get back into the routine. It was not pretty.”

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