By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional girls’ soccer team is doing its best to follow in the footsteps of the school’s field hockey team.
Just a day removed from the field hockey team winning the Central Mass. Division 1 title, the Chieftains girls’ soccer team punched its ticket to the Central Mass. Division 1 Finals with a 1-0 double overtime victory over the second-seeded Westborough Rangers at Nashoba Regional on Sunday afternoon.
The third-seeded Chieftains will battle Midland League A rival and fourth-seeded Algonquin Regional in the championship contest on Saturday. The Tomahawks advanced to the final by upsetting top-seeded Wachusett Regional in the other semifinal matchup.
“I’m really proud of these girls. I’m really happy for them,” said Nashoba first-year head coach Renee Moulton following the victory. “This is the game they got knocked out of last year so for them to advance to the district finals is really great. It’s just pure excitement.”
The Chieftains improved to 15-3-2 with the win while the Rangers finish the 2014 campaign with a 14-3-3 mark. In addition Nashoba improved to 11-0 on its home field this season.
Technically, Sunday’s game wasn’t a home contest for the Chieftains since Westborough was the higher seed but for all intents and purposes the match was played like a home contest in familiar surroundings for Nashoba.
The championship matchup will be the third time this season that Nashoba and Algonquin have met and the third straight year the two teams will meet in the postseason. Nashoba is 1-0-1 against the Tomahawks this season, playing to a 1-1 draw back in September before notching a 3-2 win at Nashoba on October 23.
“I know our players are looking forward to this,” said Moulton. “(Algonquin) is a hard-working, physical team. They have tremendous speed up top. They’re going to be a tough opponent.”
For Moulton, who is in her first season as Nashoba head coach, the matchup with the Tomahawks is a very special reunion. Moulton is a teacher at Algonquin Regional and was an assistant coach there for seven seasons before taking the Nashoba job prior to the start of the season this fall.
Senior forward Hanna Konash played the hero on Sunday for the Chieftains as she netted the game-winning goal 24 seconds into the second overtime to lift Nashoba to its first title game appearance since last winning the Central Mass. Division 1 title in 2012.
“I honestly don’t remember what happened on the play,” said Konash with a grin. “It feels amazing to get this win today. We knew coming into it that it was going to be a tough game. We had tied them all three years I’ve been on varsity.”
Nashoba carried the run of play for much of the contest, outshooting Westborough 8-1 but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard through 90 minutes of action. Both teams did find the back of the net during those first 90 minutes however the two goals were both waved off because of a pair of offside calls.
In the first half of play on Sunday the Chieftains had opportunities but couldn’t finish. Senior Kylie Lance played well from her midfield position and the Chieftains made several strong runs down the wings by Clopeck and senior Amber Gustafson.
Nashoba did manage five first half shots but the first five shots but all were easily sent away by Ranger freshmen goalie Chelsea Taylor.
“I think they were just nervous,” said Moulton. “They were wide-open shots, but they really just kind of passed (the ball) to the keeper.”
Prior to Sunday’s victory the Chieftains had to tame a tough sixth-seeded Quabbin Regional squad on Wednesday night.
The Chieftains struck for single goals in each half to lead the team to a 2-0 win over the Panthers. Nashoba’s Katie Piccioli and Clopeck each scored to pace the Chieftains. Konash had an assist for the hosts and Spellman was rock solid like usual in the cage as she secured the shutout victory.
The District Championship game will be played at Nashoba on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1pm.