Retzel Scores Twice to Lead Lee into Western Mass Semis
LEE, Mass. -- A little time off was just what the doctor ordered for the the injury-riddled Lee girls soccer team.
Playing its first game since Oct. 30, the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon defeated McCann Tech, 3-0, in the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 4 tournament.
Karli Retzel scored the first two goals for the fourth-seeded Wildcats (9-8-2), who won for just the second time in their last eight outings.
Lee coach Lauren Finnegan said her squad made the most of the week off that came along with the first-round bye into the quarters.
"It was great for us," she said. "We actually did practice every day this week and worked on some various things with the girls and tried to get some girls healthy.
"And then we tried to get the girls who were unhealthy through the season working together as a team. That was a big thing of mine -- to get the groupings back together and get them working together and communicating more.
"This week was a really great time for us to be together as a team. We had a lot of fun. We practiced hard, we played hard. ... Probably one of our more productive weeks of the season."
And it translated into a productive first half on Sunday.
Rtzel produced the eventual game-winner midway through the first half off a Shannon Finnegan corner kick from the right wing. The ball bounced off a defender in the box, and another Lee attacker attempted to make a play on it before Retzel's left-footed one timer into the bak of the net.
A few minutes later, Retzel got off a right-footed shot from just outside the 18 that looped over McCann keeper Alanza Quiniones (11 saves) and under the crossbar.
Lee tacked on an insurance goal in the 27th minute. Maddie Graziano started the play with a cross from the left wing into the box for Ann Macchi. Macchi passed back to an open Finnegan who buried a shot from the top of the 18 to finish the scoring.
McCann, which battled a headwind in the first half, was considerably more effective after the break.
Lee's Briana Hawley made four of her seven saves in the second half, but McCann also generated numerous shots that were just off the mark.
In the 50th minute, Aimee Dowling ran on a Monique Martel through ball up the middle and fired a shot from 10 yards out that hit the post. Midway through the half, Martel had a try from 20 yards that went just high of the crossbar.
Perhaps Hawley's toughst save of the afternoon came when Julia Esoldi was sprung with a through ball in the 72nd minute.
"I would say we had chances at a good three, four, five goals in the second half," McCann coach Mike Dowling said. "It was definitely a tale of two halves, just because of the wind and stuff.
"They capitalized on their opportunities, and we missed a couple of ours. ... They outplayed us in a half, and when we outplayed them, we didn't capitalize."
McCann loses a couple of big contributors, like Martel, but returns most of the roster intact next fall as it defends its Tri-County championship.
Lee will continue its quest for a Western Mass title this week against top-seeded Monson (16-0-3).
"We'll have to come up with a different strategy, as you do for every team," Lauren Finnegan said. "We knew what we were going to play with McCann. We knew who their key people were, and we kind of had a feeling -- from talking to other coaches who played them -- how they played.
"We know what we're going to face with Monson, so we'll have a different strategy with Monson. You'll probably see us play a different formation."