READING, Mass. -- Westford Academy headed out to Birch Meadow Field on Monday to own the Reading turf.
The Grey Ghosts jumped out early, but it was not until the final seventeen minutes that they would really make their statement. Tallying the last six goals, sixth-seeded Westford (18-4) barreled past No. 3 Reading (17-5), 14-7 as it made its way to a Division 1 North semifinals matchup with second-seeded Andover.
“We have never met this team before,” said Westford coach Julie Olivier. “They don't know what we're all about. Lets show them that we are one tough team to play.”
Juniors Bailey Mongillo and Taylor Freud fronted the Grey Ghosts with four goals and one assist. Teammate sophomore Jenna Klinka also tallied a hat-trick.
Fast to Start, Slow to Finish: Westford pulled ahead for good fifteen minutes into the first by using quick vertical attacks to net three straight. Once ahead, the Dual County Large runner-ups settled in and worked around the crease to score the final six and break away from a slim 8-7 second half margin.
“Our biggest strength is being able to adjust,” said Mongillo. “We really stressed the fast break (that) if you have it you should take it, because it is a missed opportunity if you don't. When they started putting high pressure up we really were able to take the ball as far as possible.”
Mounting the Grey Ghosts final streak with a pair of finishes, Mongillo used body positioning to push a group defenders inward for a 10-7 tally at 10:13. Within nine minutes, Klinka was out sprinting the Rockets from the side of the post for a 14-7 final.
“Always having one girl low for that quick pass and a shot,” said Mongillo. “(We) wait for the triple or double to come then explode too goal.”
Westford entered the initial twelve minutes tied 2-2, but a two-on-one assist on a counter from Mongillo to Freud quickly broke the standstill. An assist off the draw and unassisted finish via a steal both by Freud pushed the Grey Ghosts ahead at ten minutes in the first.
“We practice getting the draw and going straight to goal,” said Mongillo. “You don't look at the goalie. You look at the open (spaces).”
Double Down: Reading came out of the break with a double team defensive attack to slow down the Grey Ghosts counters. The plan was effective early in the second as the Rockets scored three straight in the first eight minutes.
Freshman Emma McDonagh tossed her third consecutive assist from behind the net to catch a leaping Emily Collins for an in-air finish and 8-7 deficit at 17:49.
“We play all out and have a sag off of that,” said Reading coach Michaela Hardy. “In what we call a ride we double the ball. We work with our girls to always work as a fist, not separate fingers.”