Nashoba Holds Off Wachusett to Win Central Mass. Championship
GRAFTON -- Last year, the Nashoba Regional field hockey team tasted defeat in the Central Mass. Division 1 final.
So, heading into the 2018 season, the Chieftains had a clear goal in mind: Get over the hump and capture the championship that eluded them.
On Saturday afternoon, Nashoba accomplished what it had set out to do, and in the process remained undefeated as the second-seeded Chieftains earned a thrilling 3-2 victory over top-seeded Wachusett Regional in the Central Mass. Division 1 championship game on a chilly morning at Grafton High.
Nashoba will next play Longmeadow in the Division 1 state semifinals on Tuesday night at Tantasqua Regional High School in Sturbridge. Wachusett finished the season at 19-2.
“I am just so thrilled,” said Nashoba head coach Jaime Mariani. “They fought so hard, and these girls really wanted it today. After losing in the district finals the last two years, you could tell it was their goal to get back here and finish it today.”
The star in this one was Nashoba’s Natalie Brown. The senior forward scored a pair of goals off of corners, including the game-winner with 18:27 left in the second half. Brown received a pass from Jane Bonazzoli and blasted home a shot to give the Chieftains a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
“It means a lot to be the one to score the winning goals, but this was really a team effort,” Brown said after the contest. “My strategy on the corners is to just get the ball and shoot it as quick as possible. Hopefully it goes in or someone tips it in.”
The action was furious over the first 30 minutes, with both teams scoring twice. Brown got Nashoba on the board with 22:53 left in the half. Wachusett answered with 17:47 left on the clock when Athena Comeau scored on a pass from Kathleen Sawyer.
Madeline Zacchini put the Chieftains back in front when she scored with 10:17 left in the first half. Calli McLaughlin knotted things up when she banged home a rebound as the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after 30 minutes of action.
Wachusett had some chances late to tie things up, but the Nashoba defense held strong to preserve the win.