The first half was about as good as La Place Rendez-Vous/Taggs could have hoped for.
It was the second they could have done without, for it almost wiped away all their previous good work.
An 8-2 first-half lead nearly evaporated completely in the face of a post-halftime charge by Al’s Racquet Stringing that fell just short in a 10-8 win by Vous/Taggs in Game 1 of the best-of-three Borderland Soccer League women’s division final last Wednesday (Aug. 2) at the Struchan Gilson Memorial Soccer Pitch.
Vous/Taggs can clinch the title with a victory in Game 2 tonight at 6:30 p.m., with Game 3 (if necessary) set for tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
The combination of Jess Caul and Hailey Beaudry for Vous/Taggs was a handful and then some for Al’s to contend with, as Caul blasted home four goals while Beaudry added a hat trick.
The first of those three came four minutes into the game with Al’s starting the game two players short, as Beaudry ran uncontested down the middle of the field on a breakaway and beat Caroline Spencer low to the far side.
Mika Kooistra tied it in the 12th with a bullet from the top of the right side of the 18-yard box that eluded goalkeeper Phyllis Pierson.
Tianna Veldhuisen snuck in the back door and tapped one home two minutes later to put Vous/Taggs back in front, only to have Maggie Jean even things again in the 22nd with a shot from in close.
Vous/Taggs ramped up their game several notches after that, running off six straight goals over an exquisite next 14 minutes.
Veldhuisen picked up her second of the match with a 20-yard blast after a great run down the left side that found the top left corner.
Then Caul announced her presence emphatically with a natural hat trick in a jaw-dropping four-minute span to create a 6-2 lead.
In the 28th, she reeled in Beaudry’s perfect entry pass and put it by Spencer from in tight.
Her second came two minutes after that on a classic Caul speed rush that opened up daylight between her and her pursuers and ended with her bombing a shot into the high part of the net.
Then in the 32nd, Caul showed her deft footwork by making an inside move at the right of the net that saw her split two defenders before she hammered a shot top shelf to the far corner.
Claire Hyatt added to the advantage in the 34th, pouncing on a rebound and crushing a shot from 10 yards out low to the left corner.
In the 36th, Caul and Beaudry busted in 2-on-1, with Caul threading a pass right on target to Beaudry who tapped it in.
Al’s began to stir shortly thereafter, striking twice in four minutes to give themselves life.
Chantal Jodoin accepted an inside pass and smoked a shot past Pierson from in close in the 38th.
In the 42nd, Jean turned playmaker and sailed a pass ahead that must have lit some fuse attached to teammate Sara Kellar.
The league scoring champion burst past no less than four Vous/Taggs defenders and sprinted away with a full-on breakaway from just inside midfield, finishing the charge with a laser to the low right corner to cut the lead to 8-4.
The second half saw marginally better defensive play by both sides, as the goal total was cut in half.
Kellar collected her second just three minutes into the second half on another sweet feed from Jean.
Beaudry completed her hat trick with a high-arcing floater from 20 yards out in the 51st that dented Al’s momentum and made it 9-5.
Kellar’s own hat-trick marker, plus singles from Andrea Bell-Perreault and Angel McCormack put Al’s within hailing distance.
But Caul’s fourth of the night acted as effective insurance to preserve the win for Vous/Taggs.