The North Andover girls’ soccer team built momentum toward an improbable comeback for 30 minutes in the second half of Friday night’s Division 1 North quarterfinal at Westford Academy. Brooke Ditcham deflated those hopes in an instant.
The Westford senior rocketed in a penalty kick in the 71st minute to restore a two-goal lead, and the second-seeded Grey Ghosts (15-2-2) earned both a 3-1 victory and a Monday rematch of last year’s sectional semifinal against defending champion Brookline, at Lowell’s Cawley Stadium.
“Since freshman year I’ve been taking [PKs],” said Ditcham, who had the goal and an assist. “It’s kind of scary, but I’m used to it. We practice them every day. You just have to focus on it, and don’t let it get into your head.”
The seventh-seeded Scarlet Knights (11-6-3) mounted a spirited rally after hitting the break down 2-0. Senior Olivia Gotobed finished a great corner kick from sophomore Madeline Jackson to make it a one-goal game 10 minutes into the half. Gotobed then drilled a 30-yard tying bid that Westford sophomore keeper Kiani Barnard-Pratt saved in the 70th minute.
Everything changed less than a minute later. Westford was awarded a penalty kick when sophomore Carly Davey was taken down in the box. Ditcham booted the insurance goal into the left side of the net.
“It’s not just her power behind her kicks,” Westford coach Katie Andjus said of the Davidson-bound Ditcham. “She is so skilled in placing it in her spot every single time. She has really been a threat.”
Ditcham put Westford up two minutes in when she found senior Bella Hillman on a direct kick. Senior Ally Giovino made it 2-0 when she finished a pass from Davey in the 22nd minute on a play that sophomore Isabel Doherty set up with a pinpoint through ball to Davey at midfield.
As for Brookline, Ditcham said, “We could not be more excited to be playing them again.”
Division 1 South
Silver Lake 2, Weymouth 1 (SO) — JJ Devine was the savior for the fourth-seeded Lakers (14-5-0), recording the final two saves in penalty kicks, then scoring the winning goal in the South quarterfinals against the fifth-seeded Wildcats (12-5-3).
Division 2 South
Oliver Ames 2, North Attleborough 1 (SO) — Junior Kevin Louhis scored the only goal in regulation for the Tigers (15-3-0), who prevailed in penalty kicks to advance to a sectional semifinal meeting against top-seeded Nauset (18-0-2) Thursday at Sandwich High.
Division 4 South
Carver 3, Sturgis West 0 — Junior Dominic Craig had a goal and an assist, and senior C.J. Vincent and junior Michael Sawicki also scored to propel third-seeded Crusaders (14-4-0) past No. 6 Sturgis West in a quarterfinal at Carver. Vincent scored the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick with 17:35 remaining. Sturgis finished 11-5-2. Carver advances to play No. 2 seed Cohasset (14-1-5) on Monday.
Division 1 West
West Springfield 2, Springfield Central 0 — Kate Bailey netted the first goal and set up Chelsea Hoey for the other to propel the Terriers (13-2-4) to the quarterfinal win at Clark Field. Emily Letendre earned the shutout.
Winsor 3, Beaver Country Day 1 — Junior Emily Emmette had 15 kills for Beaver Country Day (13-2).