For Natick girls, first D1 South title is a keeper
Allison Jeter did not play like a freshman in the Division 1 South girls’ soccer final Monday.
The Natick keeper helped stave off a flurry of pressure from Newton South in the closing minutes at Hingham High as the Redhawks survived, 2-1, to capture the school’s first sectional title.
“She kind of thrives on action,” said first-year Natick coach Dave Wainwright. “The more activity she gets, the better she plays . . . Goalies are a different breed, and she fits the mold.”
Natick (14-2-5) will play Bay State Conference rival Brookline, the North champion, in a state semifinal Wednesday night at Manning Field in Lynn. Natick won the first meeting, 2-1, on Sept. 7, before a 0-0 tie on Oct. 5.
Goals from senior Abby Gerdes and sophomore Kelly Pease gave the Redhawks a 2-0 lead.
Newton South senior Larissa Williams scored in the 74th minute to cut the Natick lead to 2-1. The top-seed Lions (17-2-2) had several chances in the final moments, but Jeter stayed strong, grabbing a corner kick out of the air in the dying moments.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,” said Wainwright
Gerdes scored three times in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over sixth-seeded Hingham. Her hot streak continued against the top-seeded Lions on Monday.
In the 28th minute, the senior forward gathered control of a lofted pass along the left wing. She dribbled past Newton South keeper Olivia Dubin, and finished into the right side for a 1-0 lead.
Pease, a sophomore midfielder, doubled the lead in the 70th minute with a beautiful strike from 25 yards out.
“[Coach] always says, ‘Aim small, miss small,’ ” Pease said. “I always try to get top shelf.”
Newton South had three shots hit either the crossbar or the post. It’s the second straight season the Lions have lost in the D1 South final.
“When you’re in the tournament and you’re in the finals, you really have to complete your opportunities,” said Newton South coach Doug McCarthy. “We just came up a little bit short.”
Division 2 South
Hopkinton 1, Notre Dame (Hingham) 0 — In the 26th minute, Allison Bird saw her opportunity.
The Hopkinton junior forward collected the ball at the top right of the keeper’s box for Notre Dame Academy, centering it with a strategic touch. Her subsequent shot, a right-footed strike, bent upward toward the left side of the goal frame, narrowly avoiding the outstretched hands of keeper Haley Roberts before finding the back of the net.
Bird’s first-half strike, the match’s lone score, led ninth-seeded Hopkinton over sixth-seeded NDA for the first sectional title in program history.
Hopkinton (13-3-6) advanced to the EMass Division 2 final, scheduled for Saturday against North champion Winchester at Xaverian.
The Cougars (15-3-4) had their fair share of chances, but such effort was not reflected on the final score. Instead, it was Bird who broke through for the deciding strike.
“It kind of happened really quickly,” Bird said. “I basically had the ball at the top of the 18 and I just saw an opening in the top corner and I went for it.”
Added Hopkinton first-year coach Wayne Sygrove, “It’s a goal worthy of winning any tournament.”
The Hillers’ lead was safeguarded largely due to a steadfast defense, led by senior keeper Natalie Calkins.
The captain was clutch with several key saves, preserving the team’s collective shutout over all four postseason matches.
“We’ve preached that if we don’t concede we can’t lose the game,” said Sygrove. “The goalie made some fantastic saves, there some great defending back there, and the midfield helped out up front. It was a great team win.”
Division 2 North
Winchester 3, Danvers 1 — In a rematch of last year’s sectional final, the Sachems left nothing to chance. Winchester (21-1-0) struck for a pair of goals in the first two minutes against the defending champion Falcons and held on for the title at Manning Field in Lynn.
Winchester will play Hopkinton in the EMass final Saturday at Xaverian.
“Our plan was to play the first 10 minutes like they were the last 10 minutes,” said Winchester coach Rick Emanuel. “That was a dream start.”
Just 35 seconds in, sophomore Ally Murphy scored from the right side, off an assist from senior Ella Ross .
Two minutes later, leading scorer Hannah Curtin doubled the margin, prompting a Danvers timeout. The sophomore forward carried the ball from near midfield to the right side of the box and squeezed a shot inside the near post.
“How about Hannah Curtin today? And how about her all season?” Emanuel said. “But she’ll be the first one to tell you she doesn’t do it alone.”
Senior captain Augusta Burhans said the first two goals set the tone. “And then we just kept the momentum,” she said.
Danvers (18-3-1) mounted pressure for the next 20 minutes, but in the 23rd minute, Winchester’s Jordan Weinberg scored a back-breaking goal.
“To be able to get that third one was huge, just to give us some breathing room,” Emanuel said.
“At no point did we think this game was out of reach for Danvers . . . We knew they could get those goals back.”
Division 4 South
Millis 2, Hull 1 — At Holbrook High, junior defender Alexi Vaillancourt scored a pair of goals, heading home the winner off a corner with less than two minutes to play, to lift the sixth-seeded Mohawks over the Pirates (15-4-3) for their second straight South championship.
In a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, Millis (16-3-4) will take on North champion Amesbury (16-3-4) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Marshfield High.
“We had a couple different strategies for the set pieces,” said Millis coach Steve Bailen. “We’ve really excelled with set pieces this year.”
The winner was Vaillancourt’s second goal of the day, both coming off corner kicks. Her first tally put the Mohawks ahead, 1-0, with 14 minutes to play in the first half. With the ball bouncing loose in the box, the junior poked the ball into the net from point blank for the lead.
Hull responded four minutes later. Junior Lauren Anastos played a perfect pass between defenders to freshman Alison Jenkins, who scored from 12 yards out.
“We knew if we wanted to keep them in front of us we had to talk to each other,” said Vaillancourt. “We all wanted to just stay positive. We had the momentum, so it was just capitalizing on it.”
Millis controlled much of the play in the second half firing 12 shots, seven on target. The Mohawks nearly took the lead four minutes into the frame. Sophomore Grace Jewett had a pair of headers miss, one off the bar and one stopped by Hull goalie Carly Donovan.
“It took our girls a little while to get focused,” said Bailen. “I think once they did we started controlling the ball, but overall the girls felt like the momentum was in our favor.”
Donovan kept the Pirates close, making seven saves including six in the final 40 minutes.
“She gave us a chance to win the game by being steady for us,” said Hull coach Stew Bell. “She’s always there for us and unfortunately we fell short. This is a loss we can build on for next year.”
Globe correspondents Ethan Schroeder (Division 2 South), Charlie Wolfson (Division 2 North), and Dan Shulman (Division 4 South) contributed to this report.