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Field hockey: Walpole 2, Acton-Boxboro 1

Walpole downs Acton-Boxboro with controversial goal

BRAINTREE — Brooke Matherson did it again for the Porkers.

With the score tied, 1-1, and 21 seconds left, the Walpole field hockey team earned a corner against defending state champion Acton-Boxboro in a game between undefeated teams.

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Matherson found the ball in the middle of a scrum in front of the net and scored with no time remaining, leading the Porkers to a 2-1 win and their first Division 1 EMass title since 2008.

Walpole had been bounced from the playoffs four of the last five years at the hands of the Colonials.

The final play was not without controversy.

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Field hockey rules state if a team earns a corner, play will continue until the official deems it over, even if there is no time remaining. Play ends when the ball is either knocked out of bounds, out of the circle, or in the net. Knowing this, Matherson never gave up.

“It was just unbelievable,” said Matherson, who scored the overtime winner in the South sectional final.

“At first I was screaming to keep playing . . . The ball came over my way and I just shot it in.”

“I don’t think a lot of people knew [play] was still going on. I didn’t think the ball was out of the circle. I wasn’t going to give up at that point.”

The officials never blew the whistle or deemed play to be over. Mae Shoemaker, the veteran Acton-Boxboro coach, disagreed with the call.

“I thought the ball was out of circle and the girls all saw the ball go out of the circle,” said Shoemaker. “The refs all got together and we lost the game. You can’t fight with the refs. But there shouldn’t be mistakes at a state tournament semifinal game.

“We deserve a better fate than this. You don’t want games to end on controversy with someone making a decision that affects a state championship.”

Walpole coach Marianne Murphy said, “What are you going to do? Just stop, or are you going to play? You keep playing until the ref blows the whistle. As far as I’m concerned, my girls kept playing.”

Walpole (22-0-1) was first to get on the board with 6:39 remaining in the first.

Senior captain Caroline Feeley took a shot from the top of the circle that trickled off the goaltender’s pads and Matherson knocked the rebound into the net.

The Colonials (24-1-1), led by the Cardarelli sisters, Eleana and Leah, earned 12 corners, but could not capitalize until halfway through the second half. Sophomore Nicole Tobin entered the circle, swung back, and launched a shot to the far post to even the score.

Walpole then picked up the pressure, forcing seven corners after the Colonials’ goal, and ultimately prevailed.

“It’s a crazy, unbelievable feeling,” said Matherson. “Lina [Caroline Feeley], Ashley [Waldron], and I have been to EMass here three times and lost in the South sectionals. A-B is the only team we’ve played and lost to and haven’t beaten.

“It feels great to finally beat them and go to the states. Growing up we always heard about Walpole going to states. We’ve been in a drought, but we’re back.”

Walpole will play Longmeadow for the state title Saturday morning at WPI.

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