WHITMAN — It came as no surprise that Lauren Bonavita made the difference in Whitman-Hanson’s 2-1 victory over Hingham in the Division 1 South girls’ soccer quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
The senior forward notched her 42nd and 43rd goals of the season, including the winner in the final minute, to lift the sixth-seeded Panthers (17-1-2) over the No. 3 Harborwomen (17-2-1) in a thrilling matchup at Hingham High School.
Whitman-Hanson will face No. 2 seed Newton South, a 2-1 winner over Marshfield, in the South Sectional semifinals Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Natick High.
“She’s been special,” Floeck said of Bonavita. “If you give her opportunities, she’s a tremendous finisher and she’s got great composure.”
Bonavita’s winner came just before the final whistle. With the score tied 1-1, the Panthers earned a throw in the attacking zone. Senior defender Elana Wood got her head on the throw-in, popping the ball over a wall of Hingham defenders. Bonavita won possession and slotted home the decisive tally.
For as well as they played, the Harborwomen simply couldn’t shut down Bonavita for a full 80 minutes. Hingham took a lead 18 minutes into the game, when senior Caroline Harkins pounced on a loose ball and put the hosts up 1-0. All told, Hingham outshot Whitman-Hanson 9-1 in the first half.
But the Panthers picked up momentum in the second half. Bonavita nearly tied the score with a header that sailed just wide with 25 minutes to play in the game.
A minute later, a lofted through ball from junior defender Sammy Smith sprung a breakaway for Bonavita, who calmly finished for the equalizer.
“Once we got it wide and started figuring things out,” Bonavita said, “it really opened up the offense for us and we were able to capitalize.”
Hingham had previously won three straight Division 2 state titles before moving up to the D1 bracket this fall. Coach Ryan Puntiri was proud of his team’s effort, despite losing two starters — senior defender Emily Meservey and sophomore midfielder Phoebe Murphy — to injury in Hingham’s opening round win over Franklin.
“We just ran out of gas a little bit,” Puntiri said. “A lot of things have gone right for us over the last few years, and this was one of those games that didn’t.”Matt MacCormack can be reached at email@example.com.