Improved ’Jacks still come up short

Tupper Lake’s Emma St. Pierre drives past a Parishville-Hopkinton defender during the first half of a home loss Wednesday. Also pictured for the Lumberjacks is Kate Harriman (6). (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

TUPPER LAKE –Although the Tupper Lake girls soccer team lost 2-0 at home to Parishville-Hopkinton on Wednesday, both coaches and players saw a huge improvement from years past.

Having lost by scores of 8-0 and 9-0 to PHCS last year, senior Emily Burns said the loss was a win in some ways.

“We’ve improved a lot since last year, so considering the amount of goals they scored on us last year, two-nothing is a win. It’s a heartbreaker, but when you’ve improved as much as our team has, even small losses are victories,” she said. “I think we kept our heads high. We maintained our composure when, at times, it got a little intense.

“I think we covered really well and we worked together like a well-oiled machine.”

The game was tight in the first half, which ended with neither team finding the back of the net. Much of the play was in the middle of the field, and neither goalie was put under much pressure. Each team created some scoring opportunities, but came up empty.

Tupper Lake junior Ava Cuttaia gets ready to catch a shot from Parishville-Hopkinton’s Hannah Zenger in the second half of Wednesday’s home match. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

PHCS came out after the intermission more poised, But Tupper’s defense, anchored by Allie Bishop and Burns, along with goaltender Ava Cuttaia, held strong. Cuttaia was credited with 16 saves on the night, while PHCS goalie Brenna Woods had nine.

The Lumberjacks kept the visitors off the board until seven minutes into the second half when Anourine Pullano found the back of the net on an assist by Hannah Zenger. The home team had a chance just two minutes later on a free kick, but Woods defused the threat and kept the Lumberjacks off the board.

Tupper Lake ratcheted up the pressure midway through the half and created a flurry of opportunities but came up empty each time. Cuttaia held down the defensive end for the Lumberjacks until Pullano put the insurance goal inside the near post on a pass from Erica Sloan with 1:45 remaining in the match.

Loran Kavanagh led the way offensively for the home team with six shots on net, and Sophia Martin and Stephanie Fortune each fired one on the mark.

Tupper Lake coach Zack Arthur said the game plan had been to shut down Sloan, and to that end, he said the game was a success.

“We don’t come in expecting to beat Parishville, but after holding them 0-0 for the first half, we sort of got our hopes up a little bit,” Arthur said. “It would have been awesome to do, but I’m really pleased with the way the girls played.

“We knew that they had one girl (Sloan) who scored all four goals against us, and so we just man-marked her really tightly. (We) sacrificed a little of our offensive power to do that and we knew that would be a risk, but it seemed to work because she didn’t score any goals. And hats off to Shannon Soucy and Sophia Martin, who were tasked with stopping her.”

Tupper Lake fell to 1-8-1 on the season with the loss, but Arthur said the team has a good chance with a pair of games Friday and Monday against Norwood-Norfolk.

The Lumberjacks visit the Flyers on Friday and then host the same opponent on Monday, with both matches starting at 4 p.m.