READING, Mass. -- Strong defense on corners and one smart play lead to victory for Acton-Boxborough field hockey last night.
Catching the Walpole defense overly offensive on a corner, Colonial Eleana Cardarelli assisted sister Leah Cardarelli on a counter to give the A-B (21-1-1) a 1-0 victory over Walpole (22-1-0) as it advanced to the Division 1 state championship.
A-B plays Shrewsbury (19-2-1) at Worcester State on Saturday in its quest for a third championship in six seasons.
“(Eleana) said 'If you can get the corner out (of) there (they are) putting everybody in there and we are standing out here free,” Acton-Boxborough head coach Mae Shoemaker said. “It was almost like we scripted it. We practice all the time clearing to the side and we make our goalies kick really hard.”
The play started with a pass to Eleana Cardarelli at center-field who delayed her next hit to loose the one remaining defender. Lead Cardarelli caught the pass from her sister in motion and shot five yards from the right post to slip the winner under the keeper with fifteen minutes left.
“I was so no nervous because earlier in the season I missed the net on one of those,” Leah Cardarelli said. “I saw the goalie dive and I just hit it under her.”
“Usually, they leave one or two defenders back on the line and there was nobody on the line,” added Eleana Cardarelli.
NO CUTTING CORNERS
Walpole attempted fourteen corners to A-B's six but struggle to shot through the Colonials' defenders.
The Porkers nearly scored when Brooke Matherson returned a corner pass back to fellow junior Caroline Feeley for a shot along post at 11:30 in the first half. Minutes later, Matherson held the ball and ricochet a shot off the near-post.
“They made them make mistakes in the circle, but we did not capitalize on it,” Walpole head coach Marianne Murphy said. “We always have people up (because) that is our formation. Balls come off you stick and the fly gets out there that is the chance you take.”
A-B junior Katie Neyland smothered the second pass off the last Walpole corner attempt in the final minutes to seal the victory.
If history means anything yesterdays' the win was a big sign for A-B.
The Colonials defeated Walpole in the state semifinals in each of its last two state championship in 2007 and '09.
Walpole has been to eight of the last nine state semifinals, but has only won twice, during its state title runs in 2004 and '06.
“We did not capitalize today on corners,” said Murphy. “That is basically it.”