(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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.)