NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The Drury Blue Devils girls soccer team has been working a lot in practice on ball movement and execution. In Monday afternoon’s season finale, the team controlled the field of play and allowed all that hard work pave the way to a 1-0 victory over the Mount Everett Eagles, sending four seniors off the field victorious on Senior Night.
The Blue Devils (6-9-1) controlled the ball for much of the day, taking 13 shots on goal while not allowing any shots in the first half and only five overall. Freshman Kayla McGrath notched the lone goal of the game with 26:21 left in the second half.
“We have been looking for a quick transition, finding feet to either get the ball out wide and then back to the middle, or send it through,” Drury coach Maria Bartini said. “We try to get to our attacking center midfielder, and get it to her feet as quickly as we can, so that she can distribute and we can get that penetration. We can capitalize because we have really good speed, so we like to be able to use that. They executed really good ball movement all throughout the game today. I was really pleased.”
The play was set up thanks to solid ball movement that utilized an open field. Eli Miles dribbled the ball straight up the middle of the field, while her offensive counterparts spread out to open things up and create more options. This also created isolation for McGrath, who was able to slip past the defender and sneak a kick past the goalkeeper and into the left corner of the net.
“It was really good to do that, because we have worked on that for most of the season,” McGrath said. “We work on that a lot in practice, because we struggled with that at the beginning of the season. Everything we’ve learned in practice we execute on the field. It was nice, because it is Senior Night and we wanted to give it to the seniors, because they worked really hard this season.”
The Blue Devils recorded their fifth shutout of the year, while also bouncing back from a 3-2 road loss to the Eagles last Thursday. Sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Dobbert had three saves for the shutout.
“We were motivated, because we were not very happy with the end result the last time that we played them when we went down there the other day,” Bartini said. “They played a great game and had a pretty good game plan against us that was effective, and so we made a few adjustments. Plus, it was Senior Day, and our four seniors were motivated to end the season on a high note.”
Having beaten the Blue Devils just days prior, the Eagles (2-11-1) played confidently to match their opponent’s intensity. Things were scoreless at the half, and Mount Everett goalkeeper Madison Ullrich recorded eight saves overall.
“They’ve just been playing so much better the past few games, and our slogan has been ‘Better Late Than Never’ at this point,” Eagles coach Jess Murtagh said. “We just had so many shot opportunities, if not great shots. They don’t ever stop trying and just go 100 percent the whole time. That is the theme of the season; no matter what the score. Usually it’s because we are losing, but they just try so hard.”
Mount Everett will have a chance to finish the year with a win, as the team has a rescheduled game set for Tuesday. But with the season coming to its close, Murtagh reflected and appreciated the effort her players gave all year.
“They are a really hard-working bunch of girls,” Murtagh said. “I will always remember the 100 percent hard work all the time, despite the fact that they are the underdogs. It’s nonstop and nobody ever lost their cool. It was a really fun team to coach.”
Drury, which qualified for the Western Mass tournament by virtue of its second-place finish in the Berkshire South Division, learns its first tourney opponent on Wednesday.