Goal Within Reach For Norton U14 Girls Soccer
Team needs victory on Monday to earn spot in state tournament.
One win is all that stands in the way of the Norton Under-14 girls’ soccer Division 1 travel team achieving its goal of reaching the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions.
After battling a talented and physical Dartmouth squad to a 2-2 deadlock last Saturday in Dartmouth, Norton completed its eight-match regular season in first place in the South Coast Soccer League’s Division 1 with a 7-0-1 record and 22 points.
Dartmouth finished second with a 6-0-2 mark and 20 points. Mariner, which is made up of players from Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, Rochester and Achusnet, placed third with a 5-1-2 record and 17 points. Freetown-Lakeville was fourth at 4-3-1 and 13 points.
The top four teams qualify for the playoffs. Norton, the top seed, will host fourth-seeded Freetown-Lakeville on Monday evening at 5:45 p.m. at the Norton Middle School. Mariner, the third seed, will travel to second-seeded Dartmouth on Saturday at 9 a.m.
There will be no division championship game as the two semifinal-round winners will both advance to the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions, which will be held from June 24-26 in Lancaster. With a victory, Norton will be crowned 2011 division champions. However, a loss will end its season.
The squad consists of 16 players with all but one being eighth graders. Tim Dermody is the head coach with Michelle Byrnes and John Erickson serving as assistant coaches.
Lauren MacGray, who is a freshman at Norton High, plays forward, while Marisa Amato, Gillian Dermody, Megan Geib, Laura Johnson, Olivia McCarthy, Bridgit Murray and Lauren O’Connor see action at both forward and midfield.
Allison McPherson plays midfield, while Emily Weber sees time at midfield and defense. A strong defensive unit also consists of Holly Beaucage, Brittany Byrnes, Lauren Erickson and Kyla Prosper with Amy Pereira at sweeper and Kathryn Saba in goal.
Last Saturday Norton had a tough battle on its hands in Dartmouth. Needing to register just one team point to secure first place and the top seed in the playoffs, the locals held a 2-1 advantage at the half. They took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Byrnes from 30 yards out. After Dartmouth tied the game at 1-1, Norton retook the lead on a goal by O’Connor off a rebound. The hosts tied the game with a goal in the second half, but the locals held on for a 2-2 deadlock and the one team point necessary to finish first in the division.
“We did not have many scoring opportunities, but we made the most of them,” said Dermody. “Dartmouth is a very physical team, but all we were looking for in that game was a tie. Dartmouth needed to win to overtake us for first place. It was like a playoff game and we were pleased to come out of there with a tie. Our kids hung tough.”
“They did what they needed to do to hold on and get the tie. Our defense played hard and Kat had a great game in net. I was really proud of the way the girls played, especially during the last five minutes. They did a good job controlling the ball down the stretch.”
On Monday evening, Norton will face a Freetown-Lakeville squad that has played in a lot of close games this spring, having scored a total of 17 goals, while surrendering just 11 in eight regular-season games. They dropped a 3-2 decision to Norton and lost 2-1 to Mariner. Freetown-Lakeville tied Sandwich 1-1 before falling to Dartmouth, 2-0.
They gave Norton all it could handle during the first meeting on April 16 in Norton. It was tied 2-2 at the half. Norton scored early in the second half and held on from there.
“They are very good,” said Dermody. “They are a very quick team with quick forwards. They play very physical and have a very good keeper. They are tough to score against.
“We got back to the basics in practice this week. We need to be aggressive. We want to force the tempo. We are working on spacing, attacking and moving without the ball. We need to improve on getting the 50-50 balls. We need to pressure the ball, create turnovers and turn them into scoring opportunities. Overall, we have to be smart with the ball.”