Defending Champs Tame the Wildcats
DANVERS -- When you enter the quarterfinal round of the state tournament as a No. 12 seed and you are facing the No. 4 seed, the defending state champions, at their place, under the lights on a cold, rainy night, you need more than a few lucky bounces and lucky breaks to go your way.
Through the first 60 minutes or so, the Wilmington High School girls soccer team was able to fend off a highly-skilled Danvers squad, but with 24 minutes left the Falcons scored a goal and from there it just snowballed.
Danvers (17-2-1) went on to net three more goals to come away with the 4-0 victory and advance to the Division 2 North semifinal and face the No. 1 seed Masconomet Chieftains on Thursday.
Wilmington (10-8-2) captured a hard-earned first-round victory over the No. 5 Dracut Middies last Friday night. The Wildcats have qualified for the state tournament eight straight years, while winning seven straight Middlesex League Freedom Division League Championship titles from 2011-17 before Stoneham ended that streak this season.
“We were beaten by a better team,” said Wildcat head coach Sue Hendee, who just completed her 31st season as head coach and 32nd in the program. “We hung with them for about 60 minutes and then the bottom kind of fell out. That’s what I expected from (Danvers). I saw them play Tewksbury and their shots from outside are dead-on and they were rifling them in the second half (tonight). I think Alyssa (Morrison, our goalie) did really well, especially that one save.”
The game was scoreless at the half with Danvers controlling most of the possession and also holding a 7-1 advantage in shots. The Falcons kept up that pressure early in the second half with Morrison (11 saves) making two fabulous saves, one punching one a ball in heavy traffic coming off a corner kick, and the second when she completely robbed senior captain Lauren Clement with a right hand stop on a rocket shot from inside the six-yard box.
About seven minutes after that, Danvers finally got on the board as Riley Baker drilled a shot from30 yards out to the top left hand corner. The Falcons added three more goals in 10 minutes to break it wide open.
Wilmington had four shots on net, but never really had a legitimate scoring chance.
Wilmington will lose 10 seniors off this year’s club, including midfielder Alyssa Bernazani, who will be off playing next year at Merrimack College. Currently, 14 former players are competing at various collegiate levels, including Olivia Wingate at Notre Dame, Kayla McCauley at Northeastern and Liz Gordon at Merrimack.