BRAINTREE — When Andover senior captain Kate Gregory was awarded a penalty corner with 5:09 to play in the first half of Tuesday’s Division 1 state semifinals against King Philip, she was entering familiar territory.
Gregory scored the winning goal on a penalty stroke in the team’s season-opening win over Central Catholic, and added she has taken “thousands” at practice.
She was awarded the stroke Tuesday at Braintree High when classmate Katherine Furry launched a shot during the team’s sixth penalty corner, and the referee ruled it would have landed had it not been impeded by the leg of a King Philip defender.
Gregory also said Furry gave her some advice, telling her, “Don’t look at the goalie, she’ll know where you’re going.”
King Philip goalie Abby Campbell was among the best in Division 1 this season, giving up just seven for a 0.43 goals-against average.
“I thought to myself, I’m not even going to look at the cage,” she said.
“I stared straight at the ground, my heart was racing, but I always go top left, and that’s where it went.”
Gregory gave Andover a 1-0 victory and sent the Golden Warriors (21-0-1) into the state championship game against Longmeadow, which defeated Algonquin, 3-2, in the West championship earlier in the day.
“They stretched the field really wide,” King Philip coach Liz Hathaway said. “They had really good stickwork, strong block tackles, they’re a really strong and athletic team across the board.”
Hathaway called Gregory’s winning penalty stroke phenomenal.
“You can’t touch that,” she said.
Gregory and fellow senior captain Emma Farnham played key roles in stopping King Philip’s possessions, although the Warriors made a valiant attempt to tie the score in the second half.
Andover coach Maureen Noone praised the work of her team’s play in the midfield, noting how valuable it is to keep a team from getting past the 50-yard line.
“I think they don’t get recognized a lot because [the focus is] the goal-scorer,” she said. “They’re outstanding and any one of them could be an outstanding forward, too.”
She also said she wouldn’t have pegged her team as the North champion and a finalist for the state championship.
“It’s kind of been a blur,” Noone said. “We’ve been playing well, and I think somebody has been stepping up every day to surprise us more and more.”
She praised the ability of her senior class to rally together and set aside individual goals.
“A lot of the lacrosse kids lost in this round last year to Needham,” she said. “I think they know what it takes and they’re anxious to get to that next level and experience that.”
Andover will be making its first appearance in the state championship since 2012. The Golden Warriors won it all under Noone in 2010 and 2011.
Watertown 1, Dennis-Yarmouth 0 — Senior captain Sydney Poulin scored five minutes into the game and the Raiders held off Dennis-Yarmouth in a state semifinal at Braintree High.
“We broke out as a team, came on the attack as a team,” Poulin said. “One of my teammates gave me a really good pass out front at the top of the circle, I took a quick shot, and it went in.
“We knew how much time we had left and we had to hold strong the entire game.”
Watertown (21-1) will go for its ninth straight state championship Saturday, facing Oakmont in a rematch of last year’s 4-3 final.
Watertown took control in the second half, allowing fewer possessions for Dennis-Yarmouth and developing its own offensive possessions.
Watertown coach Eileen Donahue credited her team’s play to better execution rather than a change in the game plan.
“We played team defense,” she said. “I think that’s what held us strong.”
She also cited the play of senior goalie Jonna Kennedy, who has not allowed a goal in the postseason.
“We knew what we had to do and we were prepared,” Poulin said. “We kept working hard, kept working as a team, kept at it the whole game.”Ryan Hathaway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.