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WA Girls’ Soccer cruises past Haverhill 4-0 to advance to state tournament semifinals

Taken+on+October+31%2C+2017+at+the+WA+girls+varsity+soccer+game+against+Chelmsford
Taken on October 31, 2017 at the WA girls varsity soccer game against Chelmsford

Taken on October 31, 2017 at the WA girls varsity soccer game against Chelmsford

Mahi Kandage

Mahi Kandage

Taken on October 31, 2017 at the WA girls varsity soccer game against Chelmsford

Josh Rosenstein, Staff Writer

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The Westford Academy girls’ varsity soccer team defeated the Haverhill Hillies 4-0 on Sunday, November 5th at Trustees Field. Westford’s record improves to 14-1-2 as they advance to the semifinals of the MIAA north division state tournament.

Westford’s impressive regular season earned them the #2 seed in the tournament, as well as a first round bye which gave them extra time to prepare for the quarterfinals matchup against Haverhill.

WA came out very slow at the beginning of the game and nearly conceded a goal. Senior goalkeeper, Emma O’Sullivan, made a terrific diving save to keep the ball out of the net. Westford head coach, Tracy Capone, talked about the team’s response to their sloppy start.

“I actually think that woke them up a little bit. […] Once we settled in, we started moving the ball on the ground, we were creating opportunities, we got behind their defense, and had some great goals,” said Capone.

Despite the lethargic start for the Grey Ghosts, they found themselves up 1-0 after 10 minutes thanks to senior captain, Rebecca D’Anna, who opened up the scoring with a header over the goalie who was off her line. 10 minutes later, sophomore Brooke Ditcham, scored an outstanding goal off a first time shot from 25 yards out that found itself in the top right corner of the net. With 15 minutes left in the first half, sophomore Alexandria Giovino, calmly slipped the ball off the inside post and in after taking a touch around the goalkeeper who came charging out to challenge her.

By halftime, Westford could sense a win due to the three goal explosion, the fans’ enthusiastic energy, and a Haverhill injury that sidelined one of their starters. Though the victory was in sight, the Grey Ghosts knew they couldn’t take their foot off the gas in the second half.

“They [the girls team] played 80 minutes [with] intensity. They didn’t let down. […] They brought it, and that’s just desire and wanting it,” said Capone.

After a long goalless stretch in the second half, D’Anna capped off the scoring with a lefty finish after beating the Haverhill goalie 1 on 1 on a breakaway with 15 minutes left in the game. The Grey Ghosts stopped a few late attacks by the Hillies at the very end of the game to preserve the clean sheet, and reach their goal for the season.

“Our goal all season was to qualify for tourney, and then it was to go two rounds because we haven’t done that in a number of years,” said Capone.

The win for Westford is especially sweet because they did it with their starting goalkeeper being less than 100%. Capone praised O’Sullivan’s toughness to play through a nagging ankle injury, as well as the impressive Westford defense.

“Fortunately, we have a strong defensive line, so this year Emma hasn’t had to make half the amount of saves that she usually does, but she’s tough. She just battles through it for 80 minutes, and then takes care of it in between,” said Capone.

Although the Grey Ghosts will celebrate this victory, they know that their work is not done and they’ll need to focus on their next game.

“They’re looking forward to the challenge. They’re looking forward to playing Brookline. They’re a good team. It’s just one game at a time, it’s just one day at a time. We take practice one day at a time, we take our games one game at a time,” said Capone.

The excitement around the girls team is as high as ever as they look to beat Brookline on Tuesday, November 7 in Lynn, Massachusetts, and advance to the finals of the north division state tournament.

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WA Girls’ Soccer cruises past Haverhill 4-0 to advance to state tournament semifinals