Millbury Edges Lenox Girls in State Semis
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- It took contributions up and down the lineup to get the Lenox girls soccer team to the Division 4 final four.
And even in a 1-0 loss to Central Mass champion Millbury on Tuesday, the little it was all hands on deck.
Early in the second half of a scoreless game, the Woolies had a prime opportunity when Lenox keeper Sophie Patella receive a yellow card just outside the 18.
Patella had to leave the field with Millbury setting up for a direct free kick that could have proven decisive.
"Soph gets the yellow, and we have to get Julia [Haddad] out there, and I told her, 'Julia, I know it doesn't look like much to people on the outside,' but when you saw her coming on the field, she had total confidence, total calm," Lenox coach Kyle Zinchuk said.
"When you see defensively that your backup keeper is coming into the game like, 'All right guys, here we go. I got this,' you can't explain how much that means to a team."
Millbury missed that kick just high of the crossbar, but it did not miss on a chance 15 minutes later that proved to be the difference.
Grace Martin's goal in the 62nd minute was the only thing allowed by Patella (10 saves) and a stout Lenox defense, but it proved to be the difference.
In reality, most of the match was more lopsided than the scoreboard showed.
Millbury earned 17 corner kicks -- 10 in the first half -- and did not allow a shot on goal.
Lenox had trouble getting anything going toward the Millbury goal all night and spent almost the entire first half on its side of midfield. Zinchuk said he thought his players were a little too worried about not making a mistake with the ball and the Woolies were able to capitalize on every hesitation.
"In the first half, especially, we played way too tentatively," he said. "Millbury is a great team. Don't get me wrong. I just think we were giving them a little too much respect, a little too much space to be able to play and move the ball in front of us.
"Oddly, I think giving up the goal might have been the best thing for us in terms of our play, because I think you saw us loosen up a little bit after that. I think we were a little stiff, a little tight trying to hold the clean sheet. And then after we gave up the goal, it was, 'All right, well now we have nothing to lose.' "
Although it is Millbury (17-32) moves on to Saturday's state title game, the Millionaires can console themselves with a banner season that saw Lenox get over the hump in the Western Mass finals after two straight disappointments there.
It also saw Zinchuk's team silence its doubters.
"I'm gonna miss the seniors for sure," he said. "Most of all, you've got Taylor Knight and Kat Nichols on the defensive line, Erin Czelusniak being that spark for us on top. Claire Lynch controlling the middle of the field for us. And Julia Haddad, who came to the program late.
"I think a lot of people counted us out early in the year. We got to the sectional finals last year and lost a tough one to Granby and then lost seven key seniors, seven starters. ... I think a lot of people outside looked and said we'd probably take a step back.
"The girls just every day worked to disprove that. We fought through a lot this season, and I'm very happy with them to get here."