MEDFIELD, Mass. -- The Medfield girls' soccer team demonstrated the importance of a dominant midfield in a 2-0 dismantling of Bay State Herget division champion Dedham on Tuesday night in a Division 2 South quarterfinal match.
Medfield (17-0-3) controlled possession and consistently stepped forward to break up Dedham attacks before they could threaten the Warriors goal. Medfield was so successful in keeping the Marauders at bay that Dedham (15-2-4) managed only one shot on goal and it came off a corner in the 76th minute.
Medfield coach Michael La Francesca highlighted the play of senior Jen Narlee as a controlling influence in the heart of the midfield that allowed the speedier wide players to create chances.
“The goal is, if you can control the ball in the middle and keep the ball on the ground, we would have more possession," La Francesca said. "If you have more of the possession - than you have more of the play.”
The Warriors took the lead in the 13th minute.
The sequence began with striker Katelyn Murray had several shots blocked on the edge of the box. The attempted clearance came right back at the Dedham defense and Murray fired in another shot that forced a good save out of Ellen Masalsky, which was turned home by senior Krista Pinciaro.
Dedham played much better in the second half and started to find openings to attack the Warriors defense. The biggest talking point of the second half came seven minutes after the break when a great through ball fed junior Libby Masalsky in behind the last defender. Medfield’s Colleen Beggan shouldered the forward off the play and Dedham’s bench cried out for a penalty.
The refs denied the appeal and called it a fair challenge. It would be the Marauders best chance until the final moments of the game.
Dedham head coach Don Savi was certainly not happy with many calls from the officials during the game, but afterwards admitted that Medfield’s defending was a much bigger factor in the final outcome.
“They’re a good defensive team. They only gave up six goals all season, we knew that. We had a couple chances, but couldn’t get an open look. It wasn’t the reason we lost, but it was a good game and we shouldn’t have an official that can’t handle it.”
The Warriors wrapped up the game in the 26th minute. Freshman Krissy Rimmel reached the end line and cut the ball back to Cami McCurdy, who opened up space on her right foot and the shot found the side netting off the fingertips of Masalsky.
Despite the loss, Savi is proud of Dedham’s achievements this season and the success this senior class has had over the past four years.
“I have nothing bad to say about this team, even tonight, they worked hard. Three league championships in four years that’s the best we’ve ever done. It’s been a fun year.”
Medfield, the No. 3 seed, will move on to face No. 7 seed East Bridgewater in the sectional semifinals. La Francesca was looking forward to the next game after beating two very tough opponents in the opening rounds.
“I do like our chances right now. We beat two of the better teams in the bracket. I’d rather play stronger teams at this point to get us ready.”
State tournament notes:
Medfield was not the only favorite in D2 South to advance on Tuesday. The Canton girls' soccer team, the No. 4 ranked team in the state, also moved into the sectional semifinals with a 1-0 win over Scituate. Canton will face Duxbury, which beat Holliston in the afternoon game. The expectation coming into the season was that Medfield and Canton would have to go through each other to win the sectional and right now that showdown still looms on the horizon.
There were shocks galore in the Central sectional as both of the top remaining seeds in the boys' soccer Division 1 bracket were knocked out on Tuesday. Worcester North, No. 10 in the state, was stunned 2-1 by Leominster (who they beat 3-0 during the regular season) and No. 20 Algonquin was beaten, 1-0, by Wachusett. The top seeds in the girls’ sectional are still alive setting up the third meeting of the season between Nashoba and Algonquin (Nashoba won each of the first two games).
Several ranked teams went down in the topsy-turvy and ultracompetitive D1 North girls’ sectional. Acton-Boxborough, which knocked off No. 2 Peabody on Sunday, fell to Westford Academy in penalties. Westford will face Beverly in the next round, which knocked off No. 18 Concord-Carlisle. On the other side of the bracket, No. 10 Lincoln-Sudbury beat No. 19 Newton North, 4-2, and will play No. 11 Central Catholic in the semifinals.
In the girls’ D1 South sectional, No. 9 Needham came from behind in the final minutes of regulation and beat North Attleborough, 2-1, in overtime. Needham coach Carl Tarabelli and North coach Bill Wallace are good friends and shared several laughs during the game. Wallace’s gameplan of limiting Needham chances and hitting on the break almost worked to perfection when senior Jamie Grinavic scored with just over 10 minutes remaining. Two headers off corners, by Katie Beval and Sammy Lerner, allowed the Rockets to avoid the upset. Needham will face No. 16 Oliver Ames after the Tigers beat No. 14 Whitman-Hanson on penalties.
The boys’ side of the tournament also offered some great matchups and several surprising result. In D1 North, No. 6 St. John’s Prep beat No. 4 Acton-Boxborough 1-0 and will face the No. 1 team in the state, Masconomet, in the semifinals. In the South sectional, No. 2 Needham was led by player of the year candidate Mac Steeves, who scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Marshfield. Next, the Rockets will face No. 12 Dartmouth, which dispatched No. 16 Nauset with surprising ease, 5-0. On the other side of the bracket, Weymouth and Oliver Ames will have a rematch of a regular season game that was won by Weymouth 1-0 on a scrappy goal by Mike Lynch.