Close Game Ends Girls Soccer Season…Nov. 11, 2015
By Jess Thomas
The Nashoba Regional High School girls soccer team lost a heart wrenching battle to Wachusett 1-1 (4-3 penalty kicks) in a Central Mass. Division 1 quarterfinals match Saturday on the road.
A full regulation game plus 20 minutes of overtime could not settle the intense playoff battle between the sixth-seeded Chieftains and third-seeded Mountaineers.
Wachusett nailed all four of its penalty kicks and Nashoba made three and missed two, sending the Mountaineers to the semifinals.
For Wachusett (14-4-1), Monica Pallotta, Emma Mailman, Emma Boss and Quinn Dorogi took care of the PK’s, and for Nashoba (10-6-3), senior Jennifer Schwenk, freshman Taylor Rodriguez and junior Katie Piccioli were true on their shots.
For such a well-played game, it would be a brutal loss for whichever team fell, but Nashoba head coach Renee Moulton wouldn’t have it end any other way.
“I guess I’m old school, I grew up with them [penalty kicks], too,” Moulton said after the game. “I don’t know of another way except to just keep playing it out but that can get exhausting as well.
“The girls gave everything they had. I don’t think there’s an ounce of energy left,” Moulton said.
With just over eight minutes left in regulation time, the Chieftains were holding tight to a 1-0 lead. But then Wachusett’s Catherine Elkas slipped a goal to the right of Nashoba senior goalkeeper Ashley Spellman for the equalizer.
Before the Wachusett tally to tie it, Nashoba seemed to have the edge, as the Mountaineers were settling for long kicks down the field to try to come back. But Wachusett completely changed its mindset once they tied it.
“Their energy picked up, their enthusiasm picked up and we just had a little difficulty matching it,” Moulton said. “It was hard to bring ourselves up to that next level to match the intensity that they had, but these girls never stopped.
“They gave everything they had and I’m proud of them,” the coach said.
The first half of the contest was a battle between two great defenses and excellent goalies, as Spellman and Wachusett’s Emma Trudeau didn’t give up any goals.
Wachusett had the best chance 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the game, as Alyssa Maldonando headed a corner kick off of the top crossbar for a near goal.
Nashoba would get the first jab, however, as senior Marissa Kelberman scored.
Just four minutes and 19 seconds into the second half, Kelberman found herself with the ball in front of Wachusett’s goal and she fired it past Trudeau for a 1-0 Chieftain lead.
It would be all either team could muster before Elkas tied it up late in regulation.
Neither squad had many chances for a win in either 10-minutes overtime period, which sent it to penalty kicks.
It was no surprise to anyone that the game came right down to the wire, as these two squads were very familiar with
each other, already playing twice this season. Wachusett won the first matchup 2-1 and the second battle ended in a scoreless tie.
As Moulton said, “Two great teams met each other in the quarterfinals.” Moulton touted the Mountaineers, saying that they are well-coached and well-organized.
The Cheftain head coach only sees positives from a season where her younger players got some quality playoff experience.
“We have 10 seniors who I think are tremendous leaders who have been really good role models for our girls and we’ll certainly miss them,” Moulton said. “But we have a lot of underclassmen that will learn a lot from this year from the players that they played with and from being in the quarterfinals.”
Wachusett moves on to play Westborough in the semifinals and Nashoba will have the offseason to regroup for next year.