By Michael James LeClair
Watch out, Central Mass, here comes the Nashoba Regional girls’ soccer team.
After dropping its season opening contest to Algonquin Regiona, the Chieftains are back to their winning ways.
Nashoba welcomed Westborough to town on Thursday afternoon and proceeded to dispatch the visiting Rangers by a 2-0 final score.
The Chieftains improve 2-1 on the infant season and are 1-0 against the Mid-Wach B. Westborough dips to 0-1-2.
“I was happy with the overall team effort on both the offense and defense; they worked really hard on both sides,” said Nashoba head coach Renee Moulton. “Offensively, we’ve been trying to get some better movement off the ball and I think they executed that in the first half and lost a little bit of it in the second half.”
The Chieftains offense was paced by senior Katie Piccioli and freshman Abby McNulty. Both finished the contest with a goal and an assist to provide all the scoring the hosts would need.
Nashoba found the back of the net in each half. With the Chieftains controlling the run of play for the opening 10 minutes of action, McNulty put her team on the scoreboard with 29:04 left in the half. McNulty beat Westborough keeper Kaitlyn Conners with a bid. The goal was set up by Piccioli who threaded the needle and connected with McNulty on a pass.
That was the way it stayed for the final 29-plus first half minutes as the Nashoba defense worked hard to contain the Rangers and prevent any quality scoring chances. Seniors Jacquelyn Harnett, Keagan Castles along with junior Lily Hammill and sophomore Sarah Teague anchored the back line in front of Nashoba starting goalie, senior Theresa Don.
In the second half, the Chieftains had a chance to add to its lead in the opening 10 minutes but couldn’t cash in. During the 49th minute of the match, sophomore midfielder Jayne Conry found herself in scoring position from just outside the box 20 yards away, but her shot went high and over the crossbar.
It remained a 1-0 contest as the match approached the 60th minute moments before Moulton elected to make a goalie switch. Substituting for Don, freshman Jetta Oskirko was brought in to work the remainder of the contest in net.
The home team put the match away during the 76th minute when Piccioli found the right corner of the net with her shot from inside the scoring box to conclude the scoring.
“It was a good team win. Defensively, we’re really working on a team defense, working together as a unit and not individuals,” said Moulton. “Overall, it was a good performance against a really good team. Westborough is one of the top teams in the Mid Wach.”
Moulton enters her third season at the helm of the Chieftains program. After capturing the Central Mass. Division 1 title in her rookie season on the Nashoba bench in 2014, the Chieftains finished 10-6-3 last fall. Nashoba’s 2015 title defense ended at the hands of Wachusett Regional in the quarterfinals in penalty kicks.
When asked about her team’s progress through the early part of the season, Moulton didn’t hesitate.
“I’m happy with the direction we are headed, I really am. You’re seeing a lot of the chemistry developing between the older players and the younger ones,” said Moulton. “Our senior class is awesome; these 10 girls from last spring throughout the whole summer have pushed every girl on this team to be fit and to work their hardest.”
This year’s edition of the Chieftains is led by four senior captains. Forward Caity Curtis, defender Danielle Scafidi, Piccioli and Harnett all provide leadership and guidance to the younger players on the roster.