Subscribe to the Duxbury Clipper and stay informed where news matters most –– your hometown!
|The impossible dream: Girls soccer state champs|
|Monday, 24 November 2008 22:02|
The Duxbury High School girlsâ€™ soccer team finished the second half of its regular season schedule with a 3-5-1 record in its last nine games; a sign that an early exit in post-season play was a strong possibility.
Selected as the #12 seed in the Division II South Sectional surely wasnâ€™t a vote of confidence, but it got the Lady Dragons to the dance so they could strut their stuff.
Somewhere along the line Coach Emerson Colemanâ€™s team got its rhythm, winning one-goal games over Holliston, Wellesley, Scituate, Oliver Ames, and Belmont to earn a shot in the state championship game against Wahconah Regional HS of Dalton.
Winning its third overtime game of the tournament, Duxbury won the Division II State title on Saturday afternoon at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden with a 2-1 OT victory over the Warriors.
â€œIf you had looked at us going into this tournament, I donâ€™t think anyone would have picked us to win today,â€ said Coach Coleman. â€œThey over-achieved. I told them earlier that they were winners just by getting here today.â€
Dancing with the Stars should be calling soon, as there were plenty of Duxbury players to choose from, with junior Caitlin Burke leading the way with the game-winner with 2:48 left in OT.
Although Duxbury dominated play throughout, they trailed until the last five minutes of the game.
Going into a strong wind, the Lady Dragons were hoping to keep the game close so they could pour it on in the second half. However, it was obvious early on that the Eastern Mass. champs could hold their own despite Mother Nature.
Senior Jess Lizza had the first serious scoring bid of the game just four minutes after the ball was dropped, and minutes later Duxbury earned a corner that sailed into the side of the net with the aid of a strong crosswind.
Wahconah countered with a rush of its own, breaking past the Duxbury defense and earning a corner kick that was perfectly placed in the middle of the box, only to be shot over the head of goaltender Emily Brook, who watched it sail over the crossbar.
The Lady Dragons continued to get the better offensive chances, as sophomore Melissa Gavin and Burke would get golden opportunities over an eight-minute span, but failed to dent Wahconah keeper Brittany Breault.
With 4:20 to go in the first half it appeared Duxbury took a 1-0 lead when senior Stacia Boynton knocked home the rebound of a Gavin shot that hit the post and was mishandled by Breault. But the official ruled she had possession prior to the shot and blew the whistle, despite the observations of many that the Wahconah netminder was actually pushing the ball toward a teammate.
The call sparked a monumental turn-around, as the Warriors broke up field and scored less than a minute later when sophomore Kelsie Dumas fired a shot along the ground that beat a diving Brook to her left for a 1-0 halftime lead.
â€œI think they were disappointed that they allowed the other team to counter-attack, and that was their chance to score,â€ said Coleman. â€œI told them that was just like against Belmont. I think after that we got back to our mindset and were comfortable, because that is what we did all tournament.â€
Having the wind to their backs in the second half would hopefully be the magic potion that would propel the Dragons to their first state title since 1994; but it wasnâ€™t quite as easy as they had hoped.
The play of Breault and Duxburyâ€™s inability to finish were stringing out their championships hopes longer than they expected, with a Galvin blast banging off the post and a Warrior defender preserving their one-goal lead by heading out a Duxbury shot labeled for the back of the net.
Wahconah would counter with a chance of its own, sending a corner kick in front of Brook that bounced around like a pinball machine before being cleared by the Lady Dragon defense at the 29-minute mark.
Duxbury would continue to carry the play in the middle of the half, earning three corners in a three-minute span. But the Warriors could sense they had their opponentâ€™s number and pressed the issue in the Duxbury zone, forcing Coleman to call a timeout with 11:07 left in the game.
The timeout seemed to work in Duxburyâ€™s favor, as they got back to controlling the action and pushed the defense up in order to pressure a tiring Wahconah defense.
When Burke tied the score, a deflated Warrior team was ripe for the picking, huddling back on defense and hoping that a flip of the coin would improve their chances in overtime.
â€œI knew we were going to win after that,â€ said Burke. â€œWe were focused on winning and we really played our hearts out and it paid off. We had momentum at that point and it didnâ€™t really matter to us which way we were going if it went to overtime.â€
The flip went Wahconahâ€™s way in overtime, but going into the wind did little to discourage the Lady Dragons, who could smell victory the minute play resumed.
â€œWe had momentum going into overtime and I think we were ready to fire away,â€ said senior captain Sarah Wooley. â€œWe had been in overtime twice before and won, so we werenâ€™t worried about what side we were on.â€
With Duxburyâ€™s rock solid defense of Wooley, senior captain Tristen Chin, sophomore Lauren Grady, senior Liz Desmond and Brook keeping the Warrior offense at bay, it was only a matter of time before the Lady Dragons would be wearing the crown.
With the late afternoon sun setting behind the hills, Burke sent the frigid fans home when she moved in from Breaultâ€™s right and sent a shot to the far corner that ended the Lady Dragonsâ€™ spectacular run.
â€œIt was the most amazing experience I have ever gone through in my life,â€ said an emotional Wooley. â€œStarting this in August and making it here and winning the State championship is a dream come true.â€
For more photos from the championship game, click here.