Warriors drop first round game to Wilmington by a 4-1 tally
Published in the November 6, 2015 edition.
By DAN BYRNE
WILMINGTON — On Thursday night, the Wakefield Memorial High School varsity girls’ soccer team got a taste of postseason play as it just barely got into the tournament with a 5-11-2 record.
Wilmington, on the other hand, had an outstanding season finishing 17-0-1, earning the top ranking as the Div. 2 North tournament’s top seed.
Wakefield came in with the hopes of improving on the two losses that came at the hands of the Wildcats this season in Middlesex League Freedom division play as the Warriors dropped each contest by a 6-0 score.
The gulf in skill level was evident on the scoreboard as the home team Wildcats got the upper-hand early on and make quick work to finish off the Warriors, ending with a final score of 4-1 in a Div. 2 North first round game at Alumni Stadium.
It was the third straight tournament appearance for the Warriors under head coach Jessica Marshall and the third time they lost in their opening round tournament game.
The game began with each team making claims for the upper hand in the opening 10 minutes.
Early on it was Wakefield’s Hailey Lovell who stopped the hearts of everyone in attendance momentarily as her fourth minute effort stung the Wilmington keeper’s mitts, forcing her to put the shot over the crossbar for a corner. Wakefield wouldn’t net a goal from the following set-piece but they fired a shot across the bow of the top-seeded Wildcats.
“She is amazing,” Marshall said of her sophomore striker. “She played all 80 minutes. It could have changed so much but it didn’t happen. It is important to note that the team set Hailey up with that opportunity.
“The first few minutes we were in control,” the coach added. “We made them a little bit frantic. They had to recollect themselves.”
Wilmington struck back and quickly proved how it earned the top spot in the tournament. Not long after Lovell nearly put Wakefield on the board, Wilmington’s attack began to fire on all cylinders.
“Being as good as they are they were able to recollect,” Marshall said.
The game was decided early, as in a matter of 10 minutes the feet of two players determined the outcome. Wilmington got its first goal just past the seven minute mark, as Kayla McCauley connected with Olivia Wingate to put the Wildcats on top.
“They are able to score unlike any other team that I’ve seen, including Arlington,” said Coach Marshall. “Their top line is just so fast.”
It was the same Wildcat combo to link up just three minutes later to double the lead.
Just six minutes after conceding a second goal, the Warriors were under pressure once again and again it was McCauley finding Wingate to bring the score to 3-0 with just over a quarter hour played.
With the game quickly slipping away, Wilmington was able to put the icing on the cake just one minute after netting their third goal. This time it was Bella Granara who found the back of the net, making the score 4-0 Wilmington with just 17 minutes played.
“They caught us four times quickly. Unfortunately it felt like it was early on,” Marshall said. “Certainly one, two, three, then the fourth, so it took a little out of our sails immediately, especially with that fourth goal. We had to recollect.”
Speed and skill were the deciding factors that put Wilmington on top, the Warriors just couldn’t match the pace that the Wildcats set in the first half and it left them with a large hole to climb out from in the second half.
With a huge deficit in front of them, the Warriors had to turn up the attack. However, Coach Marshall’s side found breaking down the top team in Div. 2 North to be tough. After Wilmington went up by a fourth goal, its coach, Sue Hendee, adjusted the emphasis on attack and had her team drop off in defense. This adjustment allowed the Warriors some more time to possess the ball and formulate an attack on the Wilmington defense but shifting to a defensive stance made Wilmington that much more difficult to break down.
Prior to the halftime whistle, Wakefield started to regain its footing a bit. The passes through the midfield were more crisp and the players were more relaxed and confident in possession. As the Warriors went into the halftime break down 4-0, there would have to be a big slip up from Wilmington if Wakefield was going to turn this one around.
As the second half began, the action on the pitch resembled that of the late first half with Wakefield throwing all the tools in its bag into the attack.
“At halftime we talked about ignoring the score and coming to play the game that we intended on playing, because at that point there’s nothing much more you can do,” Marshall said.
As the second-half progressed, the Warriors began hitting the ball up the sides into space, rather than playing it through the middle of the field. This adjustment caused Wilmington’s defense to become stretched as it chased the Wakefield wingers down the sideline.
Finding the players with pace in space was key to the Warriors opening up the defense. Grace Hurley, Kelsey Czarnota and Sarah Grady, along with Lovell, put the Wildcats defense under a new form of pressure.
About 25 minutes into the second half, the refocused Warriors attack had success sending a ball over the top of the defense. It was just inside the 18 yard box where Wakefield sophomore Olivia Dziadyk beat the Wilmington defender and was able to get a boot on the ball, placing a shot calmly by the Wilmington goalie bringing the score to 4-1.
“I’m psyched about getting the goal, it was just the third goal that goalie has allowed all year,” Marshall said. “I’m psyched it was one of the Dziadyks, she’s just a sophomore.”
Wakefield, after the goal, went in and began to commit even more to the attack. However, Wilmington sensed the Warriors’ urgency and turned their attacking play up a few notches.
Shortly after Wakefield scored, Wilmington went back on the attack but it was time for Warriors goalie Courtney Hill to shine. The sophomore made a handful of saves in the second half, including one on a shot from outside the penalty area that appeared like it going into the net had Hill’s hand not prevented it from becoming the fifth Wilmington goal.
On her goalie coach Marshall said, “The girl is just aggressive. She has no fear. It’s awesome.”
With the game opening up end to end after the Warrior goal, the visitors enjoyed some attacking play and earned several corner kicks. However, they couldn’t manage to come up with a second goal and at the end of the second half of 40 minutes, the score stood at a 4-1 final.
For the third year in a row the Warriors girls’ soccer team was sent home after just one round of the tournament as Wilmington moves on.
For Coach Marshall, the important thing to take away from this game is to focus on the positive aspects the team displayed.
“We came here wanting to win and thinking that we were really capable of it and I still do believe that,” Marshall said after the game. “I loved that the girls came here really truly believing in themselves, they weren’t doubting themselves at all. They just need to know that were so proud of them when they don’t give up. That’s the stuff that is more important than winning games, because there is your life lesson.”
Marshall went on saying, “Things aren’t always going to go your way no matter how hard you try or how much you want it, sometimes you’re going to fall short. We did have an inconsistent season and instead of focusing on their wins and losses, we want to focus on what’s going to make them strong young women going forward. And that’s what is going to be most important to them going forward and I think a lot of them get that.”
The end of the season is always a hard time but the future appears bright for the Warriors as the loss left them hungry for more.
“They’re upset, that means they wish they were going to practice tomorrow,” Marshall said, as she looked toward the future of the program. “There was a point where we had three seniors on the field. I think it says so much not only for our underclassmen but also for what our seniors were able to do with our underclassmen. They play like their juniors and seniors.”
At Div. 2 North
Girls’ Soccer Tournament
At Alumni Stadium,
Wilmington……….4 0 — 4
WAKEFIELD………0 1 — 1
First Half — Wil, Wingate (McCauley) 7:00. Wil, Wingate (McCauley) 10:00. Wil, Wingate (McCauley) 16:00. Wil, Granara (un.) 17:00.
Second Half — Wak, O.Dziadyk (un.) 25:00.
Saves — Wak, Hill (8). Wil, Souza (8).