READING — The Acton-Boxboro field hockey team ended Walpole’s perfect season Wednesday, defeating the Porkers, 1-0, to claim the Division 1 EMass championship.
The No. 6-ranked Colonials will face Shrewsbury at Worcester State Saturday in the state final.
Sophomore forward Leah Cardarelli netted the winning goal for the Colonials (21-1-1) with 14:51 to play. It was the only goal the Porkers allowed in the postseason, and the first goal allowed since they beat Dedham, 7-1, Oct. 18.
Midway through the second, Walpole (22-1) earned a penalty corner and had every player except the sweeper positioned at the top of the circle. By the time Caroline Feeley sent the ball in bounds, speedy A-B flyer Maggie Bettez intercepted it and sent it upfield to Eleana Cardarelli. Cardarelli passed the ball up to her younger sister Leah, who beat goalie Molly Breen, with no defenders in sight.
“I got the ball and turned around. I thought there was a defender there but there wasn’t and then I saw a blue shirt and thought, ‘that’s Leah.’ So I passed it up there. I was so happy she [got] it in,” said the elder Cardarelli.
Leah said she was nervous about taking the shot.
“I was scared but I knew I had to get it in. I saw the goalie coming at me and I knew if I hit it under her it would go in. It was more [Eleana] her knowing where I am. She sees me and knows where I am and it worked out good,” said Leah.
The Porkers’ offense, led by Brooke Matherson, Michaela Tosone, Feeley, and Ashley Waldron, dominated much of the game, earning 14 corners to A-B’s four. But an outstanding defensive job by the Colonials, anchored by Bettez, kept them from scoring.
“We picked up our defensive game,” said A-B coach Mae Shoemaker. “Maggie the fly, she is so fast. They read where the ball was going. After all season they’re good at reading where it goes.”
Walpole coach Marianne Murphy said having one defender back on a corner opportunity was normal for the Porkers.
“That’s the way we play our game,” said Murphy. “We always have people up, that’s our formation. If the ball comes off your stick and the fly gets out there that’s the chance you take.’’
Shoemaker added, “I’m so proud of these girls. They worked so hard to get here. They knew Walpole was awesome and they just came out and gave it all their heart and soul.”