WAGS falls just short of state title

Ben Walker and Andrew Friel (Photos), Co-Editors-in-Chief

On Saturday, November 18th, WA Girls’ Soccer squared off against the Wachusett Mountaineers for a chance to capture the girls’ soccer division I state title. Unfortunately for WAGS, they 2-1 lost in double overtime, falling just short of the title after a historic playoff run.

This run was an impressive one for the squad, as they took down Haverhill, Brookline, Central Catholic, and King Phillip on their way to the division I state championship game.

The game was originally scheduled to start at 3:30, but due to the prior game running into double overtime, the game started about a half hour late.

The first half of the game consisted of scoring opportunities for both teams, with the first one coming just minutes in for WA. However, due to a strong Wachusett defense, the ball went just over the crossbar.

Again, moments after WA’s first chance, sophomore Ally Giovino had an opportunity to put her team ahead. Due to pressure from a Wachusett defender and a leg save from their keeper, the score remained 0-0.

Wachusett had some opportunities of their own, but after a couple of corner kicks, a shot that missed just wide, and a nice save from senior keeper Emma O’Sullivan, the teams were still tied 0-0.

Both sides went into halftime with the score still tied 0-0.

After halftime, the teams came out looking to have a leg up on their opponent and take a lead.

Just a couple minutes into the half, WA was able to break the scoreless tie. Senior captain Rebecca D’Anna broke through a Wachusett defender and, after a scramble in front, senior Katherine Pawlak shot the ball that banked off of a Wachusett defender and made its way into the back of the net. This gave WA the 1-0 lead.

However, Wachusett would not go down without a fight to the Ghosts. About fifteen minutes later, they responded with a goal of their own off of a shot that got past O’Sullivan, tying the game at one goal apiece.

The pressure was on now for both squads, as it looked as though the next goal would likely be the winning one. Students, friends, and family sat and watched on as WA and Wachusett battled to try and  take a lead.

WAGS and Wachusett both had opportunities to take a lead. With corner kicks from WA and increased offensive pressure from the Mountaineers, both sides looked to lock in the state title. However, neither side would budge, and the game headed to overtime tied at 1-1, setting everyone up for a dramatic finish.

Overtime periods are a fifteen minute frame, where whoever scored first wins. If nobody scores, the game goes to another overtime, and so on.

Wachusett strove for the upper hand early on in the first overtime, but through strong WA defense, the girls held them at bay, keeping their hopes alive.

In the waning seconds of the half, O’Sullivan made a fantastic save, getting her hand on the ball and sending it away.

The first overtime came to an end with no winner, bringing the game to double overtime.

The second overtime frame began and WA looked to have momentum over the Mountaineers. A few minutes in, the Ghosts peppered the Wachusett keeper with shots, with one of them going off the crossbar.

However, Wachusett was given two free kicks and a couple of corner kicks, putting the pressure on the defense for the Ghosts.

Wachusett’s corner kicks came in two consecutive plays, and on the second one, the Mountaineers were able to sneak one by O’Sullivan, giving them the 2-1 victory and state championship.

After the game, both teams gathered at midfield to pose with their respective trophies and receive their medals.

D’Anna commented after the game as to how spectacular the girls’ season and how close they all were.

“This season was amazing, all eight seniors have been playing together since fourth grade, so it’s been really special just getting to play with everyone. Our team is so close, […] it’s just been a bunch of friends playing soccer together,” she said.

Although her team came up just one win short of the championship, D’Anna was proud of how her team played throughout their historic run and how they handled each game.

“We just took it one game at a time and we played for each other. We clicked this year,” she said.

Head Coach Tracy Capone reflected on the season as a whole and how the girls looked to play in this game when the season began.

“It’s been phenomenal, […] that was their goal from the onset. We set goals early on and every goal we [achieved], we reset. We knew we had a special team,” Capone said.