(Newburyport MA) “If we had to play with our shoes tied together, we probably would have,” according to Newburyport girls soccer coach Kevin Sheridan.
And that pretty well summed up the attitude of today’s participants. Whatever it takes to play!
“We were just happy to be playing,” said North Reading coach Sean Killeen. “The Cape Ann League and the principals have done a nice job to make it happen for the kids.”
I talked to both officials pre-game to get a sense of how the game might go.
One of them said that without tournaments and playoffs that the games this season would be more like “friendly” games.
The other official gave me a 3-page copy of the MIAA soccer rules for 2020. “It will be an adjustment for us and the teams. Several teams had scrimmages in which referees came in so that everyone could get used to the new rules.”
There actually was a lot of “normal” soccer played. “I thought it went pretty well with all the rule changes,” added Coach Killeen. “It looked like a regular soccer game for a lot of it.”
Newburyport came away the winner, 1-0, on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Newburyport.
The games are now played in quarters instead of halves.
Mattie DeFeo’s goal in the third quarter spelled the difference.
The NHS senior had a long run toward the goal after an excellent outlet pass/set up by junior Katie Gallagher.
“The entry pass split my two central defenders,” recalled Coach Killeen. “The scorer ended up with a good look and she put it where she needed to.”
“Katie (Gallagher) had a monster game,” added Coach Sheridan. “She played the entire game without any mask breaks.”
“The goal and the assist couldn’t have happened to two better kids, in my opinion,” said Coach Sheridan.
Coach Sheridan used a different goalie each half: “We have two great goalies (senior Anneliese Truesdale & sophomore Gabby Loughran) and both of them deserve to play.”
Both of the Clippers’ GK’s were called on to make tough saves.
“We never got too comfortable and that was to North Reading’s credit,” added Coach Sheridan.
Coach Killeen was disappointed that his Hornets didn’t collect any goals. “We need to calm down a little bit in the finishing third. As we build our chemistry, I think we’ll be in a good place.”
“It was a good start for us considering we’ve had no scrimmages,” said Coach Sheridan. “We could have been better connecting on passes. I thought we played better in the second half.”
Senior Julia Thorstad was solid in net for NR.
Senior Allie Waters is back playing for Newburyport this season. Allie has already committed to playing at Holy Cross next season. Next Saturday, at Amesbury, Allie will play against Alyssa Pettet who has also committed to Holy Cross in 2021.
Both Katie Gallagher and NR’s Katelyn Gorgenyi had threatening long-range shots in this game.
Coach Sheridan regarding sophomore Deidre McElhinney: “She plays with such poise and control in the middle of the field.”
Gabby Waters has joined the Clippers after playing at Berwick Academy previously.
The hardest rule change to get used to was the second whistle. Soccer is usually free flowing, but that rule forced players to distance themselves before a 2nd whistle would blow resuming play.
Coach Killeen probably summarized the game atmosphere best: “The kids were good despite some confusion. It was a lot of fun.”
Stehlin Stadium is an excellent place for a soccer game. I was limited to the stands but even from there I could get a good look at the action.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)
I will post the game story on McClelland Miscellanea. I also plan to post pictures on my Instagram account (McclellandMiscelleanea).