WORCESTER — The Holliston girls’ soccer team controlled play for the majority of Saturday’s MIAA Division 2 final at Worcester State.
But a second-half goal by Maggie Fitzgerald was the difference. The senior forward scored in the 63rd minute for a two-goal cushion and the Panthers held on to defeat defending champion Winchester, 3-2, at Worcester State, for the program’s first championship, the capper to a 19-0-3 season.
It was fitting that Fitzgerald netted the winner. After playing on the junior varsity as a freshman, and playing in just a couple of varsity games in the past two seasons, she was voted a captain this year for “how she puts the team first, and what a great leader she is,” said Holliston coach Brielle Chadsey.
With the expanded role and playing time, Fitzgerald’s four years of commitment to the team paid off with a 10-goal season and a championship medal.
“To come out as a captain my senior year and be a contributor to the team is amazing because I feel like I proved myself,” Fitzgerald said. “I can put my soccer career aside and show that I could have done it any year.”
Holliston opened the scoring in the 15th minute when junior forward Megan Putvinski beat the Winchester defense down the right flank. The Panthers took a commanding 2-0 lead to halftime thanks to a shot from in close by sophomore midfielder Mia Luisi.
Winchester (17-2-3) pushed back in the second half, though, with junior Ally Murphy scoring in the first 10 minutes on a header.
Fitzgerald made her mark in the 63rd minute. After a header by Putvinski bounced off the post, she was in the right spot to knock it in with her left foot.
“I just stuck my leg out and sometimes that’s all you have to do,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not all that power, I just tapped it right in and there it was.”
Chadsey singled out junior goalkeeper Mary Katherine Ward, the MVP of the Tri-Valley League, as a key to the victory.
“She gives us so much confidence back there,” Chadsey said. “We’ve only let in nine goals before today, she’s been excellent for us.”