BARRE–Spaulding's Julia Ormsby's goal two minutes and nine seconds into the first half was all the eighth seeded Crimson Tided needed as they held on for the remaining seventy-two-plus minutes to defeat North Country 1-0 in the opening round of the Division I play-offs.
"We played hard, but you never get those goals back," said coach Peter Alexander. "We had eight chances to clear or get something done, and you could see it coming.
"But, from that moment on, I thought we competed and had some decent chances, and I am very pleased with the effort."
Going into the contest, the Falcons were playing at a disadvantage.
Their leading goal scorer Devinnie Davis was dressed in street clothes, unable to compete due to a knee injury suffered in NCU's game against Stowe.
"We didn't focus on ( Davis' absence). We didn't have our number one goal scorer, so you just ignore that, and I thought we did a good job of it, no offense to Dev of course," Alexander said about how they got past the loss of Davis for the match.
As the first half began, North Country looked hesitant on the pitch, and Spaulding took advantage of the situation.
Ormsby got the ball on the upper-left corner of the 18 and lofted a high arcing shot towards Jenna Moss.
There was nothing the keeper could do as the ball sailed over her head and fell into the back-right corner of the net.
The rest of the half belonged to North Country.
Katie LeBlanc had the ball near the Spaulding net with 32:00 minutes remaining, but her shot went wide as the Falcons got their first crack at Tide netminder Megan LeCours.
The next fifteen minutes the game were played in between midfield and the Spaulding 18, with the Falcons dictating pace, but the home team was tight, not allowing any shots.
In the final fifteen minutes the pace really picked up for North Country.
With Davis out, Alexander and Batista were utilizing their entire roster, rotating players in and out with increasing frequency to best capitalize on situations.
Said Alexander, "With the pitch being so big, we knew we needed everyone and everybody got in there and helped."
Sara Ferorelli, who has not seen a ton of playing time this season, was tremendous in this role.
The junior provided a huge asset in the midfield, stripping balls from her opponent's after their initial traps got loose.
Crystal Moss was the first beneficiary of the excellent work of middi's Ferrorelli, Chelsea Bianchi, Brooke Breault and Anna Bingham, shaking loose for a shot that sailed just over the net.
Soon after, Bingham put a direct kick on net, but was turned away by LeCours.
Breault, another midfielder who played tremendously in the contest, sent Moss away on a break, but the ball got ahead of her, not allowing for a good a shot.
To make things worse, Crystal collided with LeCours and lay on the ground in pain, causing play to be halted.
This could not have come at a more inconvenient time for the Falcons.
By this point in the game, they were really taking it to Spaulding in every aspect of the game.
All systems were a go.
The offense had found their groove, the midfield was keeping the ball headed towards the Tide end, and whenever Spaulding got past the midds, Elizabeth Maxwell, Lizzy Alexander, Baylee Jacobs and Ashley Robishaw-Morin denied any chance for a ball to get through to Moss.
Davis' absence was magnified as things slowed down offensively with Crystal on the bench, trying to get her bearings.
Moss did return a few minutes later, and things picked up again for NCU once she came back on the field.
Working up front with Moss, Natalie Sykes, Leblanc and Michaela Columbia buzzed around the Tide 18, looking for anything they could get a foot on.
Bingham found something to drive, jumping on Emma Nyquist's miscue, but again, another Falcon shot missed the mark.
Spaulding put their only other shot of the half on Moss with :07 left to play, a testament to how well the girls from the NEK played after getting behind 1-0.
During the break, a minute before the teams returned to the field, Bingham received a rousing pep-talk from her sister Chelsea.
The elder Bingham reminded her sister why she wore the captain band on her leg, telling her to go out and own the second half.
I wish I could tell you that the Falcons promptly went out and fired home three quick ones, because Chelsea speech was pretty good.
I wish I could spin a yarn of a dramatic comeback leading to victory, but I can't, for no such comeback occurred.
Instead, an odd forty minutes had each team controlling play for spurts at a time, but never getting any sustained pressure.
What I can tell you is the defense of North Country prevented a shot from getting to their keeper until fifteen minutes into the half, again as sure an indication as any of how well the backfield played in this match.
Moss, Bingham and Breault had the best looks at the the Tide cage, but none could find that tying goal and NCU bowed out of the 2012 postseason.
"I think that we didn't want it as much as we should have," said Jacobs rather bluntly after the game. "It was like we were ready for the season to be over. But we played hard, gave it our all, but it wasn't enough."
Moss finished the game with three saves while LeCours totaled eight.
The Falcons finished the year with another winning record (8-6-2) and now will say goodbye to their Capitol days as they look ahead to their move into a full-time Metro Division schedule in 2013.