BRAINTREE, Mass. -- Two years ago, Mike La Francesca had a young nucleus of players doing things on the soccer field that young teams usually don’t do.
That group won the first girls Div. 2 state championship in Medfield school history, and two years later — two years older, wiser and better — the Warriors find themselves right back in position with another potential title run with several key players on their way out the door towards graduation.
Katelyn Murray scored a hat-trick and the defense, led by Colleen Beggan, Ali Gold and goalie Mimi Borkan, dominated Belmont, 5-1, in the Div. 2 state semifinals at Braintree High last night. The Warriors will play Belchertown in the state finals on Saturday (3 p.m.) at Worcester State.
“They’ve just matured,” La Francesca said of his team. “The heart that this group has I haven’t seen in another team. The skills that they bring to this program are unmatched. We have 14 seniors and seven of them start. That says it all right there. This team is determined and they have the desire. I feel that they work so hard to achieve their goals that I’m so proud of them.”
Murray saw several key seniors leave that championship team from two years ago, but the remaining core of players that helped form the rest of that team and this current roster wanted to prove that they could make it back to the title game for a chance at two state championships in three years.
The Warriors will get that chance.
“We were very hungry and we have something to prove,” said Murray. “We lost a lot of seniors that year, but we are still determined to prove to everyone that we are still a good team.”
The Warriors scored early and often to pull out to a 2-0 lead before the midway point of the first half. Cami McCurdy scored a little more than nine minutes into the game, and Murray tipped in a Krista Pinciaro pass from the left corner.
Belmont cut into a 3-0 second half deficit with a goal from Charlotte Alexander, but Murray pounced all over the opportunity on the next possession for the Warriors and slammed home a responding goal.
“We are a very possessive team,” Murray said. “All the offense, defense, midfield and forwards like to do combinations with one another. Tonight we just found each other perfectly.”
Borkan came up with the save of the day when she dove to her right and slapped away a penalty kick off the foot of Julia Russo. Murray ended things with her final tally late in the second half.