Abby Gerdes’ goal gets Natick by Brookline 1-0 in D1 state semi-finals

Ashley Siaba (10) and Maya Leschly (17) chase a loose ball

(Lynn MA) The third time was not the charm for Brookline.

Instead it was same old, same old, as they fell to Natick 1-0 in the Division 1 state semi-finals on a very cold Wednesday night at Manning Field.

The Redhawks had a win (2-1) and a tie (0-0) versus Brookline in Bay State League play this season.

Senior Abby Gerdes had one of those two goals back in the September win at Brookline.

Abby added to her goal total in the second half to give the Redhawks (15-2-5) all they needed to advance to the finals on Saturday (at Worcester State) against Wachusett.

Natick celebrates Abby Gerdes’ second half goal

Maya Leschly (17)

“It was a great battle between two really good teams,” said Brookline coach Rob Sprague afterwards.  “Both were scrapping for opportunities and in the second half it fell to Natick.”

Abby Gerdes netted the game winner at 18:28. The senior found room on the right when she broke past a defender and into the open.  “Honestly, I play a lot on instinct,” she said.  “If I overthink I could screw up.  I saw the net and just went for it.  It wasn’t any different from practice.”

No surprise to Natick coach Dave Wainwright that Abby Gerdes would score such a huge goal: “Abby is just relentless in the box.  When she found it on her foot she knew exactly where she was going to go.  She’s done it all season.”

Abby also had a glittering chance in the first half.  She came in on the right and shot hard for the far corner.  Brookline goalie Katherine McElroy dove and tipped the shot just enough to keep it wide of the net.

Abby Gerdes’ shot deflected wide by GK Katherine McElroy

Also in the first half a hard Brookline entry shot bounced loose from Natick goalie Allison Jeter but her teammates were there to clear the ball away.

GK Allison Jeter give up a rebound but teammates arrived to clear it

Natick shot on the way

The high quality of play kept most of the action at midfield.  With few advantages for either side I suspected that this game would end in overtime or via penalty kicks.  Based on how uncomfortably cold it was, I was glad for the earlier ending.

Rob Sprague: “We gave up a little bit of space to (Abby) Gerdes.  She got a step and then a shot off. It looked from where I was standing as if the ball swerved.  There was a gust of wind and it seemed to knuckle on our goalie.”

Dave Wainwright: “At halftime we were worried about Eleanor Fisher and made some adjustments that helped us in the second half against her.”

Abby Gerdes: “It was easier to play calmly because of the composure the team had.  It made me confident while I was shooting.”

Eleanor Fisher (4) shoots

Hailey Murphy: “Brookline is our biggest competitor.  They’re a great team.”

Brookline was undefeated in nineteen straight games before tonight’s loss.

The Warriors (15-2-5) were the #2 seed in the North while the Redhawks were the #10 seed in the South.

In the 2-1 win back in September, Brookline scored first (Thea Feldgoise header) but thirty seconds later according to Coach Sprague, “Abby Gerdes dribbled through our entire defense and GK and scored.”

Natick has a chance Saturday for their first girls soccer title.  I wouldn’t bet against them!

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Abby Gerdes (3) and Hailey Murphy (13) in on GK Katherine McElroy

Abby Gerdes (3) and Lindsey Mahoney (25)

Corner kick action in the Brookline end

Eleanor Fisher (4), Maya Leschly (17), and Or Yahalom (7) look for a rebound

Katherine McElroy

Abby Gerdes looking for a rebound

Natick GK Allison Jeter

Natick starts to celebrate

Serena Sink

 

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Winchester starts fast and wins D2 North title 3-1 over Danvers

Winchester captains Delaney Markham, Augusta Burhans, Grace Casey, and Shelley Blusack with D2 North trophy

Winchester celebrated two goals in the first three minutes

(Lynn MA) It figured to be a close match.

#4 Danvers was the defending D2 state champ while #2 Winchester had lost only once.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

The Warriors (21-1) jumped on the Falcons (18-3-1) from the get-go with two goals in the first three minutes and another one in the first half.

Danvers would get a second-half PK score, but Winchester had separation early and took the D2 North title, 3-1, on Monday afternoon at Manning Field in Lynn.

The Warriors will vie for the D2 state title on Saturday (12:30PM) against Hopkinton at Xaverian High School.

“It was a dream start,” said Winchester coach Rick Emanuel post-game.  “We wanted to establish our style of play which is an attacking style of play.  We wanted to go out as quickly as we can and luckily a couple of our early shots went in.”

Winchester poured into the Danvers end on their first possession.  Ella Ross sent sophomore Ally Murphy deep into the Danvers end.  Ally was able to get almost on top of the Danvers GK before releasing a shot past her.  That took all of thirty-seven seconds!

Ally Murphy (15) scores the first Winchester goal

“When a goal happens there’s usually another one coming soon,” said Danvers coach Jim Hinchion.  “We hoped it would be us, but it wasn’t.”

Instead it was Winchester’s Hannah Curtin running the right side, turning the corner and driving in the second goal only ninety-four seconds after the first one.

“We definitely weren’t expecting to be able to score that quickly,” said Hannah Curtin afterwards.

“We felt that we would have opportunities wide,” said Coach Emanuel.

Lauren Clement shoots

The Falcons called timeout after the second goal.  They began to apply pressure.  “At no point did we think this game was out of reach for Danvers,” added Coach Emanuel.  “They are a strong, fast, skilled team that could get those goals.  I saw them do it against Masco.”

Lauren Clement, Arianna Bezanson, and Madison Capezzuto had shots on net for the Falcons during their attempts to get back into the game.

But then the D2 Player-of-the-Year (Hannah Curtin) went to work.  With exceptional speed and dribbling skills, she got past two defenders and drew the attention of other Falcons.  The extra defenders dealing with Hannah left space in the middle unoccupied.  That’s when Hannah sent a pass across the goal that teammate Jordan Weinberg was ready for at the far post.

“I turned away from the second defender,” recalled Hannah, “and crossed it to the second six.  Jordan (Weinberg) was there to finish.”

Jordan Weinberg (5) scores the 3rd Winchester goal

The third goal happened at 18:21.

Hannah Curtin and Abbi Clickstein

“We knew that they loved to go to 24 (Hannah Curtin),” said Coach Hinchion. “She’s the player-of-the-year.  When she brings it down the sideline it can open things up in the middle.  You talk about not losing sight of those marks but you’re also trying to see what 24 will do with the ball.”

The three-goal lead made life easier for the Winchester defense. “Having the lead lessens the nerves a little bit,” explained defender Hannah Markham.  “You play with a little more composure.”

“They were a really fast team, so we needed to get to the ball first,” added Hannah.  “There wasn’t a lot of time to dribble out of the back.  We kind of had to play kick-and-run but our forwards are really fast so it works.”

The Falcons trailed 3-0 at the half.

“We’ve been down before and come back but against a team like Winchester that defends so well, it was a lot to ask,” explained Coach Hinchion.

Danvers had several chances early in the second half.  On one of them, Riley DiGilio made a nice run down the left side.  On another, a corner kick ended up on the ground in the box, but Jessica Pelletier couldn’t get a foot on it.

At 22:18 Hannah Markham was whistled for knocking down a Falcon in the box.  Riley Baker converted the penalty kick.

Riley Baker penalty kick

“I didn’t think it was a penalty,” explained Hannah.  “The girl literally hit my body and fell.”

Hannah Markham

There was time for the Falcons but the Winchester defense, including Hannah Markham, used more long clearances to wear down Danvers and limit their time to attack.

The win by Winchester avenges a 1-0 loss to Danvers in last season’s D2 North title game.  “We never really talked about last year,” said Coach Emanuel.

Hannah Markham confessed that she was “still a little bitter over last year’s loss.”

Winchester is from the Middlesex League while Danvers is in the Northeastern Conference.

Danvers is 38-5-2 over the last two seasons.

Winchester, with one game to play, is 38-3-2.

We’re talking about two awfully good programs!

Winchester has now won eighteen straight games.  Only loss?  Notre Dame of Hingham.

Hannah Curtin (24) looks and dribbles

When asked about Hannah Curtin’s play today, Coach Emanuel answered the question with a question, “How about Hannah Curtin today and all season?”

“Hannah has been an important part of our success,” he added, “but she would be the first to tell you that she doesn’t do it alone.”

I take plenty of soccer pictures hoping to find action and the ball.  Usually when players are dribbling, they have their heads down.  In this game I caught Hannah dribbling and at the same time looking toward the middle for teammates to pass to.  Just a sophomore!

College plans? Hannah Markham: “I am going to go to Trinity (Hartford Ct) to play soccer.  I will probably major in business.”

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Action around the Winchester goal

Ally Murphy scored the first Winchester goal

Danvers captains Jessica Pelletier, Lauren Clement, Madison Pesce, Erica Blanch, and Riley Baker with the D2 North finalist trophy

Georgia Lawrence

Hannah Curtin (24) speeds into space

Madison Pesce

Riley Baker (19) avoids Augusta Burhans (17)

Riley DiGilio shoots

Winchester team with trophy

Jordan Weinberg

Loose ball in the box

 

 

 

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Amesbury tops Manchester-Essex in D4 North title game 2-1 in double OT

Amesbury poses with the D4 North title trophy

Plenty of contact in today’s game

(Lynn MA) Last time I saw the Manchester-Essex girls soccer team play Amesbury it was October and they scored early and often defeating the Indians, 3-0.

In the rematch today, the Indians won the Division 4 North title, 2-1, in double overtime at Manning Field.

Amesbury (15-3-4) moves on to the D4 state semi-finals on Wednesday against the South winner.

The difference-makers in today’s game?  Senior Chelsea Lynch and junior GK Alli Napoli.

Chelsea had both goals for Amesbury, including the game-winner, while Alli was a strong presence in net.

Hornets celebrated Jillian Bowen’s tying goal

Chelsea did not play in the 3-0 October loss, while Alli played just the second half after returning from an injury.

To take this back even further, the two teams met at Manchester-Essex in September.  The Indians won, 2-0.  Amesbury goals?  Both by Chelsea Lynch. Alli Napoli was in net for the shutout.

Both teams capitalized on misplays in the box during regulation; Chelsea Lynch in the first half and Jillian Bowen in the second half.

The longer this game went between the two Cape Ann League rivals the greater the emotional gap would be between the winner and the loser.

Dasa Haser was in the Amesbury box 1 ½ minutes into the second overtime but her shot went wide left.

Dasa Hase (16) and Avery Hallinan (21)

Alyssa Pettet sent a direct kick toward the left post with 3:15 left in that second OT but Maddie DiPietro couldn’t finish.

Next Amesbury possession freshman McKenna Hallinan got by one Hornet and passed ahead to Chelsea Lynch in space.  As the space closed, Chelsea shot past GK Bella Pomeroy just inside the near post.  Game over.

McKenna Hallinan gets by a defender before setting up Chelsea Lynch

Chelsea Lynch (12) shoots between Emma Cochand (11) and Drew Charlton (21) for the game winner

After the game-winner is scored.

Emma DiPietro hemmed in by Hornets

“What an ending,” said Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau afterwards.  “Last year we got bumped out in a similar situation (state semifinals).”

Chelsea Lynch: “That last goal was a full effort from everyone behind me.  It came from midfield.  McKenna (Hallinan) made a beautiful pass to me.  Everything was going so fast.  I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity because there weren’t many of them.”

Very difficult loss for Manchester-Essex.  Amesbury had taken them out last year in the D4 North first round.  The Hornets improvement over last year was very evident.  They beat out Amesbury to win the Baker Division of the Cape Ann League and they were a higher seed (#4) than Amesbury (#6).

Maya Baker (1) and Ashlee Porcaro (14)

ME coach Luke Cosgrove has twice told me that what he wants from his team in a game is to, “start fast, score goals, and be tight in the back.”

In the October win over Amesbury, ME scored in the first 40 seconds and had a 3-0 lead after eleven minutes.  Against #1 Mystic Valley in the D4 North semis the Hornets scored in the first twenty seconds and led by five at the half in a 6-1 win.

When I looked at this D4 North final matchup I knew what ME wanted to do.  But they couldn’t.  The most dangerous of the Hornets (in my opinion) was Dasa Haser.  The talented sophomore is very fast, can get past defenders, and knows how to score.  She had two in the October win over Amesbury.

Dasa Hase (16) and Maddy Creps (2)

Dasa showed off her speed today but most of her shots were from long range.  There was one time in the 2nd OT, however, where she had the ball in the box, but Amesbury had three defenders and the goalie in front of her.

I waited for ME to score first but instead it was Amesbury exciting the crowd in the first half (15:13).

Chelsea Lynch had a chance for a separation goal ten minutes into the second half, but her shot was just wide left.

As the game moved into the latter stages of the second half it looked as if one goal might be enough.  It wasn’t.  Credit the Hornets.  They persisted and persisted finally tying things with 8:49 left as Jillian Bowen drove home a loose ball in the box.

Now we had ourselves a ballgame!

Jillian Bowen takes a corner kick

In the deciding second overtime, Amesbury had the wind to their backs and the sun was in GK Bella Pomeroy’s eyes.

There was no ten-minute cooling off period after the game for Coach Cosgrove.  He wasn’t happy with the loss and who could blame him.  I talked to Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau right after the 3-0 loss to Manchester-Essex in October.  He wasn’t real happy either!

The Amesbury style of play was not to Coach Cosgrove’s liking. “We want to pass the ball around defenders.  They run real fast and try to intimidate defenders.”

No official will admit this, but in these big games, they would prefer to let the teams play without interfering.  Things are let go and there will be collisions.  Players go down and there are no calls.  Both sides get upset.

First Chelsea Lynch goal celebrated

The key to the Amesbury win?  Limiting Dasa Haser.  “They definitely did better on Dasa today,” said Coach Cosgrove. “When players like that get into the right spot, they can score goals against anyone, but Amesbury had some tough defenders on her.”

Maddy Creps was one of them: “There was a lot of running trying to keep up with her (Dasa).  I felt that we did a pretty good job of containing her.”

“We knew that both teams were ready,” said senior Emma DiPietro afterwards. “We knew it would be a huge battle.  Last season in the state semi-finals we lost in double overtime.  We didn’t want that to happen again.”

Alyssa Pettet (5) and Jillian Bowen (3)

Manchester-Essex cruised through opponents in the D4 North tourney.  “We were ready for a tough game after a tight win over St. Mary’s (1-0) in the semis,” said Coach Thibodeau.

Amesbury’s Alyssa Pettet claimed that a change of style was key to the win: “We got into just kicking the ball.  We had to change back to our game and keep the ball on the ground and try to complete passes. We did that, and we scored the winning goal.”

The sun was shining and the breeze wasn’t as strong as it can be at Manning Field.

Manchester-Essex finishes 15-4-2.  “We had a great season,” said Coach Cosgrove.  “Our kids did everything we asked.”

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Action along the sidelines

Alli Napoli and Meg McElaney

Ashley Flood and Maia Esty

Avery Hallinan

Emma DiPietro (11) dropped by Madison Lawler (15)

ME goalie Bella Pomeroy

Pressure on Amesbury GK Alli Napoli

Shirt tug Emily Beck (6) on Chelsea Lynch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brookline on to state D1 semi-finals after 2-0 win vs Lexington

Brookline captains Hallie Friedman, Alexa Ribatt, Katherine McElroy with trophy

Lexington captains Awani Kabra, Sheyda Hershberger, Reina Ades, Abigail Donaghy, Coach Alex Caram

Brookline extends their undefeated streak to nineteen games.

(Lynn MA) Nineteen straight games without a loss.

Brookline put the 19th together this afternoon defeating Lexington, 2-0, in the Division 1 North finals at Manning Field.

Junior Maya Leschly paced Brookline with an assist and a goal.

The Warriors (15-1-5) will be back in Lynn on Wednesday in the D1 state semi-finals.

Their opponent will be determined in the D1 South finals between #1 Newton South and #10 Natick on Monday.

A win by Natick would lead to an interesting rematch with Brookline.  Both teams are in the Bay State League and Natick has a win and a tie against the Warriors.

I saw Lexington put plenty of pressure on North Andover in their semi-finals victory.  Not today.  The Warriors did an excellent job of containing sophomore Aleia Gisolfi-McCready and freshman Kirsty Carnan.

“We haven’t been here before,” said Lex coach Alex Caram, “and they have.  I think experience really played a factor.”

That lack of experience put Brookline on the board (24:49) in the first half.

Unable to clear, the Warriors had time to send the ball from the right to an uncovered Maddie Priebe.

Maddie Priebe (6) about to kick a bouncing pass

Maddie Priebe (6) gets her left foot into a shot

Shot on the way

The BHS junior put a strong left foot into a bouncing pass and beat Lexington goalie Eliza Stokes with a shot just inside the near post.

“Maddie is one of our smartest players,” explained Brookline coach Robert Sprague post-game.  “She’s not a big player but she knows where to be to get that type of shot.  She’s scored a handful of goals like that this season.”

Junior Maya Leschly had the assist: “We have been working a lot this week on getting wide and crossing it into the box.  I did my part and Maddie had a great finish.”

In seeing Brookline for the first time, I hadn’t witnessed Katherine McElroy (Warriors goalie) in action.  I had read about her, recruited by D1 Michigan, but hadn’t seen why.  Now I know.

Goalie Katherine McElroy about to take a free kick.

Katherine McElroy

On Brookline free kicks, it was Katherine taking them.  The first one I saw her take traveled over fifty yards!  She took at least seven of them and they were all landing in the box area with plenty of pace on them.  The only exception was a kick from straightway (I have a picture of it.) that went just over the crossbar.  Credit Lex goalie Eliza Stokes for handling everything Katherine sent her way.  What a weapon!

“We were prepared for her kicks and Eliza did well against them,” said Coach Caram.  “We just couldn’t get behind the defense to really test her.”

Brookline’s one-goal lead carried into the second half.

Lexington, despite some good midfield play by Carolyn Lane, could not mount an attack with the formation they were using.  Desperate times require desperate maneuvers.

“We went to three in the back,” said Coach Caram.  “It was a chance we had to take to push our numbers forward.”

With fewer players defending, the Warriors collected the back-breaker at 7:39.  Sophomore Sam Friedman raced down the right side and had time to send a pass to a wide-open Maya Leschly breaking down the middle.  Brookline 2, Lexington 0.

Sam Friedman (19) about to get an assist on Brookline’s second goal

“We’ve been working on that back-post cross for about half the season,” recalled Coach Sprague.  “Maya was in the right spot and took a nice touch on it.  She made it look easy but in a big game like this it wasn’t really that easy.”

Maya Leschly: “Sam (Friedman) was so selfless.  She saw me and passed it where I could shoot. It was a great pass.”

That was it for Lexington (11-7-4).

“No one expected us to even be here,” said Coach Caram.  “I think we really elevated our play in the tournament and surprised a lot of people.  We had great leadership and I’m so proud of these girls.”

The sun was shining but it didn’t fool anyone at Manning Field.  There was a breeze that felt like the next season we experience in these parts.

Brookline has given up only eight goals in twenty-one games.  They’ve scored thirty-nine goals.

Brookline is in the Bay State League while Lexington is in the Middlesex League.

Coach Caram: “We’re a really young team.  Now we have experience for next year.  Hopefully we can get back here again.”

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Brookline raises the trophy

Aleia Gisolfi-McCready chases down a loose ball

Brookline team with trophy

Carolyn Lane

Erin O’Brien (3) and Maddie Priebe (6) celebrate first goal

Jen Fiore (9) and Maya Leschly (17)

Lexington team with finalists trophy

Maddie Priebe chased by Carolyn Lane

Sam Friedman (19) and Sheyda Hershberger (2)

Sheyda Herschberger (2) and Avani Kabra (8)

Maya Leschly (17) seeks out Sam Friedman after 2nd goal

Maya Leschly in front and Isa Lundstrom Svahnqvist in back.

 

 

 

 

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On to the D4 North finals for Manchester-Essex after 6-1 win over Mystic Valley

Dasa Hase (16) set up perfectly in front

Dasa’s shot splits Gianna Gray (23) and Rianna Griffiths (13)

Maya Baker had a goal and two assists for the Hornets

(Lynn MA) The starting time for Sunday’s Division 4 North finals between Amesbury and Manchester-Essex is 11AM.

I alert you to that because after seeing Manchester-Essex twice I know that they can strike early.

I saw it against Amesbury during the regular season; goal in forty seconds.

I saw it today in the D4 semi-finals against Mystic Valley: goal in twenty seconds.

And the Hornets (15-3-2) weren’t finished in either game.  Two more goals were scored against both teams in the next ten minutes.

Both of those games were history before halftime.

ME coach Luke Cosgrove put it succinctly: “We want to start fast, score goals, and keep it tight in the back.”  Mission accomplished against the #1 Eagles tonight in the D4 North semi-finals.

Dasa Hase and Jillian Bowen both scored twice for the Hornets.  Junior Maya Baker had a goal and two assists.  Lily Rhuda had a second-half goal for Mystic Valley.

Jillian Bowen (2 goals) about to take a penalty kick

Seedings can be misleading because they’re based only on a team’s record.  In other states they tweak the seedings based on the strength of schedules.

The team from Malden came in with an excellent 16-2 record.  They had allowed only one goal in their last seven games and had scored thirty-nine goals.

The problem for the Eagles was that they play in the Commonwealth Conference.  “We have a much weaker schedule,” said MV coach Lauren Henry afterwards.

Jade Cromwell (4) led a very solid ME defense

“We’re not used to facing a team like Manchester-Essex.  They were bigger, faster, and had a lot of skills.”

Manchester-Essex is in the Cape Ann League where very competitive opposition abounds and teams toughen each other up for tournament play.

The Hornets will face a familiar CAL foe in Amesbury on Sunday (Remember 11AM) in the D4 North title game.

I was very impressed with the passing skills of Manchester-Essex.  Teammates getting open were rewarded with feeds.

Right from the get-go, ME was unselfish.  Maya Baker brought the ball down the left side, drew defenders, and sent a pass past MV goal Gwen Rhuda to sophomore Dasa Hase in front.  Quick score, twenty seconds into the game.

Maya Baker shoots to score goal 2

Less than two minutes later Maya Baker broke down the same wing.  MV was now concerned about Hornets in the middle.  Maya shot, instead of passing.  2-0 with just over two minutes gone by!

I quickly realized that MV’s stats, coming in, would not mean much to this-night’s Hornets.

The ME offense was impressive, but their defense led by Jade Cromwell was just as good, keeping the Eagles in their own end for most of the first ten minutes.

At 27:43 Bianca Antonucci fouled Jillian Bowen in the box.  Jillian drove the penalty kick past GK Gwen Rhuda.  3-0.

Action near the MV goal

Mystic Valley started to be able to get the ball into the ME side of the field but often the Hornets responded with more scoring chances.  One of those was a marvelous setup by Dasa Hase for freshman Elorie Willwerth.

At 9:11 Dasa Hase finished off a lengthy breakaway with her second goal of the game.  4-0.

Five minutes later Maya Baker put an excellent pass in front to Isabel Musco that was finished at 4:18. 5-0.

Hornets coach Luke Cosgrove substituted frequently in the first half and continued to do that in the second half.  “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

Jillian Bowen managed to come out of this trio of Eagles for a shot and a goal

Senior Jillian Bowen tallied ME’s 6th goal ten minutes into the second half.  She put on a dribbling clinic (as my picture shows) through several Eagles to get into a shooting position.  “It was a team effort to get the ball up there,” Jillian explained.  “I took my space and took my shot when I had it.”  6-0.

Mystic Valley finally scored four minutes later.  “Shelagh Downes was outside the box,” recalled Coach Henry.  “She kicked it into the box and Lily Rhuda was fortunate enough to be right there and kicked it over the goalie’s head.”

Coach Cosgrove describing Jillian Bowen: “She has played well every week, every game.  She’s been doing it since preseason.  It’s great that she’s getting rewards for her hard work.”

Lily Rhuda (4) and Claire O’Brien (5)

The Hornets are undefeated in their last ten games dating back to a 3-0 loss to Division 2 Masconomet.

Jillian: “We know Amesbury pretty well.  It’s going to be a battle.  A quick start will be best for us.  We’ve have been preparing all season for them.”

Coach Cosgrove: “We split with Amesbury during the regular season but we’re a different team from game one (loss to Amesbury).  We’re more experienced.  We’ve had more time together and be able to coach them up and find our strengths and use them.”

College plans?  Jillian: “I have verbally committed to play soccer at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.  I have a lot of family connections out there.  I am planning on doing a five-year engineering program.”

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Rowan Schanley (30) elevates to avoid GK Gwen Rhuda

Rachel Albertazzi (10) dribbles into shooting range

Reaction to first goal

Madison Lawler (15) and Gianna Gray (23)

Kate Story

Jillian Bowen chased by Eagles defenders

Isabel Musco drives home a goal after being nicely set up by Maya Baker

Gwen Rhuda chases a loose ball

Dasa Hase shot at MV goalie Gwen Rhuda

Dasa Hase on the move

Dasa Hase after scoring the 4th ME goal

 

 

 

 

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Gracie Doherty goal against St. Mary’s brings Amesbury to D4 North finals

Amesbury team celebrates winning the D4 North semi-finals

Chelsea Lynch (12) and Gracie Doherty (18) celebrate the goal

(Lynn MA) Amesbury’s next opponent might want to check to see who hasn’t scored for the #6 Indians so far and keep an eye on them.

Twice in this year’s D4 tournament, non-scorers have broken through for Amesbury.

Today in the D4 North semi-finals, it was junior Gracie Doherty.  In the D4 North First Round it was senior Sara Johnson.

Sara’s goal was part of a 4-0 win over Winthrop.

Goalie Alli Napoli on the ground. Kayla Demers in the air. Meg McElaney nearby.

Gracie’s goal today at Manning Field was all there was as Amesbury took out St. Mary’s 1-0.

That win gets the Indians (14-3-4) into the D4 North finals for the third straight year.

To hear senior Emma DiPietro tell it, the win was nice but not enough. “I got a taste of winning these last three years and I don’t want to lose again.  I think that we’re ready to win the whole thing.”

To get the state title Amesbury will need three more wins starting with the Manchester-Essex/Medway winner on Sunday at Manning Field.

The Indians are undefeated in their last ten games since losing to Manchester-Essex in October.

I saw St. Mary’s play Amesbury in the tournament last year at Landry Stadium in Amesbury.  I was unimpressed.  The final was only 2-0 but the Spartans displayed a game-long inability to generate any sort of an attack.

Riley Lynch (11) and McKenna Hallinan (1)

Today I saw a different team of Spartans.  For a little over a half, the play was in the middle of the field or in the upper half of the Amesbury end.

“We had a great first half, “recalled St. Mary’s coach Jim Foley.

There weren’t golden chances, but the Amesbury attack was seriously limited by St. Mary’s.

“We started off with two great chances in the second half,” said Coach Foley.  One was off a free kick by Joslyn Deschenes and the other came when Kayla Demers got in close.  Amesbury goalie Alli Napoli handled both advances.

And then Amesbury took over.

Sara Johnson (6) dribbles ahead

“We didn’t play our game in the first half,” explained Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau.  “We were playing as individuals.  I told them at halftime that if they didn’t play as a team the season could be over.  Our seniors stepped up because they don’t want it to be over.”

Amesbury had a great chance in close after nine minutes in their resurgent second half and then senior Emma DiPietro put two long shots on net during the next two minutes.

The pressure on St. Mary’s (13-7-1) was building.  Every clearance was being put back into scoring areas by the Indians.

The persistent pressure led to a free kick.

Alyssa Pettet took the kick from straight away.  Her kick came toward Spartans goalie Adrianna Bowker.  Chelsea Lynch was nearby contesting the oncoming shot.

The long shot bounced off the St. Mary’s goalie and right to junior Gracie Doherty.

Gracie put a charge into a shot and it hit the crossbar and caromed right back in her direction.

Gracie reacted by leaning into a header that settled in just under the crossbar at 27:27.

Sherly Feliz (24) and Emma DiPietro (11)

“What a time for Gracie to get her first goal,” said Coach Thibodeau afterwards.  “On championship teams you need goals to come from all over.”

Gracie’s reaction to scoring such a big goal wasn’t too surprising: “I was shocked that it went it!”

I assumed that St. Mary’s would start to press Amesbury with so much time remaining.  They called a timeout after the goal, but their offense never got started.

“We really didn’t get any looks after those plays in the beginning of the second half,” said Coach Foley.

Amesbury has now shut out St. Mary’s three straight years in the tournament. They are also unscored on in this year’s D4 North tournament.

It was not a lack of effort on the Spartans’ part.

The Indians had that “team” thing going defensively.  The long balls to no one were limited.  Instead, teammates were passed to and better control kicked in.

“Defense wins championships,” said Coach Thibodeau.

McKenna Hallinan gets point-blank attempt

Emma DiPietro: “We don’t give up.  We came back stronger.  We have always been kind of a second half team.  In the locker room we said, ‘This is it.  All or nothing.”

Certainly, an advantage for the Spartans was that even though they were the lower seed (#10), they ended up with a home game late in the tournament.  They have played twelve games at Manning Field this season.

I was very impressed with defender Morgan Mackey in the first half. She prevented the speedy Indians from getting any breakaways.

Ball in the middle

Gracie Doherty’s goal was unassisted although as Emma DiPietro explained, “she assisted herself.”

Not to be forgotten on the eventual game-winner was the terrific send-in by free kicker Alyssa Pettet.

Ten minutes after the Doherty goal, McKenna Hallinan broke in for as clean a look as you could hope for.  Spartans goalie Adrianna Bowker should have been arrested for unarmed robbery after she deflected McKenna’s shot wide.

Coach Thibodeau: “A culture was created on the soccer team three years ago.  It wasn’t about winning.  It was about doing the best we can.  That approach has gotten us to the North finals three straight years.”

Coach Foley: “We couldn’t clear it out on their goal.  Amesbury is a very good team.  Adam (Thibodeau) does a great job.  We’ve lost to them three years in a row.”

Fight for the ball

The weather was nice.

The parade of planes flying over, heading to Logan, always interests those of us who seldom hear/see planes of their size.

Despite the 3:30PM start, there was a good crowd in the stands.

Amesbury is in the Cape Ann League.  St. Mary’s is in the Catholic Central League.

College plans?  Emma DiPietro: “I have applied to go to Boston University.  If I go there, I will try to play some club or intramural soccer.  I am interested in studying biology and specializing in genetics.”

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Amesbury GK Alli Napoli leaps to save

Chelsea Lynch (12) and Riley Lynch (11)

Sherly Feliz

High kick

Incoming

Joslyn Deschenes

 

 

 

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Lexington defeats North Andover 1-0 in girls soccer D1 North semifinals

Lexington and North Andover wait on a corner kick

Aleia Gisolfi-McCready had the only goal of the game.

(Lowell MA) Wait until she gets the hang of it!

Lexington’s Aleia Gisolfi-McCready admitted afterwards that she’s scared of heading the ball and doesn’t do it very often.

It showed.

With just over two minutes left in the first half, teammate Carolyn Lane sent a free kick toward the far post.  The ball went over the elevated Kirsty Carnan and right at Aleia.

Aleia ended up with a facial (“I got a fat lip out of it.”) but the ball went into the North Andover net.

That goal stood up and #8 Lexington won the Divison 1 North semi-finals 1-0 on Wednesday night at Cauley Stadium in Lowell.

The Minutemen (11-6-4) now move on to the D1 North finals on Saturday (2:15PM) at Manning Field in Lynn and will face #2 Brookline.

“It was an awesome win,” said LHS coach Alex Cram afterwards.  “I’m really proud of them.  They never stop.  It’s such a team effort with this crew.”

Regarding the goal: “Carolyn Lane takes our free kicks.  It was a little weird today because the corners here are short, so she had to adjust.  I think that Aleia’s goal went in off her nose.  Whatever works!”

Karen Oh (19) defends against Olivia Gotobed

Tough loss for North Andover.  The #4 seed could not put any serious pressure on Lexington. The tell-tale stat for NA (12-5-4) was that they never had a corner kick.

“We couldn’t figure it out offensively,” said Knights coach Lisa Rasanen.  “They (Lexington) won balls in the air.  We needed to play more balls through on the ground.”

Regarding the goal: “They sent everyone up.  They had one kicking and the other nine in the box. We couldn’t cover them all.”

Lexington’s Eliza Stokes has shutouts in all three D1 North tournament games.

The Knights may have had more shots, but Lex dominated the actual scoring opportunities.

Kirsty Carnan traps the ball

The sophomore/freshman combo of Aleia Gisolfi-McCready and Kirsty Carnan kept a very good NA defense busy.  Aleia and Kirsty displayed speed, dribbling skills, and persistence.

That the only score would require a skill that is yet to be developed by this twosome was the biggest surprise.

“I scouted North Andover and I told the kids that tonight’s game was going to be a fight,” said Coach Caram.  “They have great players and are dangerous up front.  Tonight, our defense was able to handle them.”

Coach Rasanen: “I just wish we were more intense in the first half.  In the second half we were more aggressive and took it to them but couldn’t figure out how to get the ball on goal.  It just wasn’t our night.”

Aleia Gisolfi-McCready: “This is my first year playing with Kirsty.  It has been nice having all the freshman on the team this year.”

Carolyn Lane gets ready for the free kick that led to the Lexington goal

North Andover is from the Merrimack Valley Conference while Lexington is from the Middlesex League.  The two teams met three years ago, and the result was a 1-1 tie.

The playing surface at Cauley Stadium was very fast.

The weather (50 degrees) was a nice change from the persistent rain I faced yesterday at Masconomet.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge if you click on them.)

After the goal

Aleia Gisolfi-McCready chased by Rachel Hunt (22)

Aleia Gisolfi-McCready sets to shoot

Avani Kabra (8)

Carolyn Lane (6)

Emma Liporto

GK Eliza Stokes celebrates with the defense

Goalie Jordyn Apperti (green) above the crowd

Isabel Ceraso (Knights 6)

Molly Connolly

Rileigh Cinquergrano (7) passes to a teammate

Kirsty Carnan (14) threatens

Lexington celebrates

 

 

 

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