The Holliston girls' soccer team fought to a 3-0 victory at Norton on Sunday.
But it took three quarters before the defending Division 2 champion Panthers (2-0) broke the deadlock when junior Mia Luisi scored off a penalty kick. After that, the floodgates opened, with all three Holliston goals coming in the final 18 minutes of action.
“Everything we were trying wasn’t working, so we had to try something different,” said Holliston head coach Brielle Chadsey about that pivotal fourth quarter.
The Panthers struggled to get their high-tempo offense rolling for most of the contest.
This year’s pandemic-induced MIAA rule changes, especially the elimination of throw-ins and direct free kicks, have slowed the game down and affected the teams’ approach.
“Traditionally, we’re a very fast, high-pressure team and we like to play really fast,” Chadsey said. “That can’t happen this year.”
Sophomore Tatum Cordon and freshman Kaitlin O’Connell notched the remaining scores, but Chadsey also credited captains Mary Kate Ward, Megan Putvinski, Ellie Burke and Addie Capobianco for keeping the squad calm during the scoring drought.
“This was a lesson in emotional control for us and working as a team,” she said.
Defending a Division 2 title feels much different in the year 2020. The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start due to their competitive spirit, and they hope that drive continues throughout the season.
“They’re still such a competitive group that I didn’t really have to do anything to fire them up,” said Chadsey. “They have a lot of pride in what they did last year, and they want for people to continue to look at our team as a great program.”
Hopkinton 1, Medway 0 — Kylie Skiba scored the only goal of the contest, and it was enough to put the Hillers on top in a Tri-Valley league road game against the Mustangs.
Ashland 5, Bellingham 2 — Natalia Arjona tallied two goals for the Clockers in their home Tri-Valley league triumph over the Blackhawks.
Medway 5, Hopkinton 0 — Paige DiMinico (3 goals) and Julia Berger (2 goals) carried the scoring load for the Mustangs in the Tri-Valley League win.
Holliston 2, Norton 0 — Junior captain Owen Burke and sophomore Aidan Roy each scored to give the Panthers (1-0-1) their first victory of the season.
Medfield 2, Westwood 0 — Drew Stanton and Chris Hoffman each found the back of the net for the Warriors in their Tri-Valley League home win.