When Mary Cadogan received a through ball on the right flank in the 64th minute, she almost couldn’t believe how much space the King Philip defense allowed her.
A clear shot on goal awaited the junior midfielder, but she surprised the entire Marciano Stadium crowd, squaring across the 6-yard box. That’s where senior forward Katherine Pawlak waited to tap home the game-winner for Westford Academy in 2-1 win over the D1 South champion Warriors in Brockton.
The Grey Ghosts (17-1-2), winners of the D1 North sectional, will play Wachusett in the girls’ soccer state title game, their first time ever reaching such a stage.
“There are so many seniors on this team, and we’ve all been on the same travel team growing up,” said Pawlak, also a swimmer and short-distance sprinter. “We made it to the state championship when we were little and won, and it was a huge deal then.
“It’s an even bigger deal now, so it’s going to be amazing to hopefully share it again with these girls.”
Before Pawlak’s game-winner, sophomore striker Alexandria Giovino opened the match by ripping a 20-yard strike into the top corner in the 26th minute. A failed clearance fell to Giovino, and she wasted no time in catching senior goalkeeper Emma Durant off guard.
“We wanted that [first goal] so badly, and it was in the game plan,” said Westford head coach Tracy Capone. “If we could score first and put them on their heels, take some of the momentum, then we could ride that.”
Heading into the game, Capone said their game plan was to neutralize King Philips sophomore forward duo of Avery Snead and Chloe Layne.
That worked to some degree, though Snead headed home an equalizer in the 39th minute off a corner kick at the back post. Outside of that, senior goalkeeper Emma O’Sullivan enjoyed a relatively quiet night in goal for Westford.
Division 2 South
Medway 2, Notre Dame (Hingham) 1 — Thanks to heroic efforts from junior goalkeeper Samantha Murray amongst others, the Medway girls’ soccer team is heading to a third consecutive Division 2 state final.
After a 100-minute battle in Tuesday’s D2 South final at Taunton High, the Mustangs headed to a penalty shootout tied with No. 5 Notre Dame Academy, 1-1. Nothing could separate these teams once again, as the first nine penalties hit the back of the net, but on Notre Dame’s fifth attempt, Murray dove to her right early and came up with a game-winning save to seal a 2-1 victory for second-seeded Medway.
Medway (17-2-2) will face Danvers (18-2-1) in the D2 state championship at a time and location to be determined.
Archbishop Williams 3, Newburyport 2 — In hotly-contested, back-and-forth affair, Makenzie Heath scored a pair of goals, including tie-breaking tally on a penalty kick in the fading seconds of the first half, as the Bishops clinched a Div. 3 state semifinal victory over Newburyport at Manning Field in Lynn.
With both sides collectively trading five scores, the match proved to be a measure of which team could sustain its offensive prowess.
Heading into halftime with a 3-2 advantage, the Bishops (20-1-2) held on to their slim margin down the stretch to advance to the state championship game.
A failed clearance attempt in the box by Clippers senior keeper Jennifer Stuart took Chigozie Sumani out. Heath stepped up for the penalty kick, and calmly side-footed home the set-piece winner.
“I have confidence in myself to knock it in, and I have confidence in my teammates behind me to support me,” Heath said. “It was a great game.”
Millis 2, Amesbury 1 — Lexi Vaillancourt, a calming presence at center back for the Millis girls’ soccer team,moved up to forward and scored the winning goal for the Mohawks (16-2-2) in stoppage time of their double overtime Div. 4 state semifinal victory against Amesbury in Lynn.
“We had a whole strategy mapped out,” said Millis coach Steve Bailen. “We saw that [Amesbury] was sitting back quite a bit and we wanted to capitalize on that.”
Millis, which last won a state title in 2009, will face Central sectional champion Millbury (13-4-5), which defeated West champion Granby, in Saturday’s Div. 4 championship.Ethan Schroeder and Matt MacCormack reported from Lynn, Nate Weitzer from Taunton.