Girls' soccer: Nashoba 2, Minnechaug 0

BOLTON, Mass. -- Wednesday, theoretically, was a day the Nashoba girls’ soccer team had circled on its calendar since 2011. Ever since the Chieftains’ 2-1 defeat to East Longmeadow in last year’s Division 1 state semifinal match, they’ve been planning their return.

“We’ve been counting the days, let’s put it that way, for a year to get back here again,” Nashoba head coach Pam Vaughan said Wednesday.

Well, there will be on more date that needs penciling in – as in Friday’s state championship game – after the Chieftains blanked West champion Minnechaug in front of a home crowd Wednesday night.

While improving their unbeaten record, Nashoba (18-0-4) set up a state final matchup with South champion Franklin, which also claimed a 2-0 win over North champion Beverly on Wednesday.

“We’ve been wanting this for so long, especially coming off the semi-final loss last year,” senior captain Laura Courtney said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment to come back and prove ourselves again.”

Courtney notched what proved to be the game-winner after a scoreless first half. With 18 minutes remaining in the match, the midfielder flicked a perfect volley from Kim Slade past Minnechaug keeper Anna Maria Ribeiro.

The Chieftains added an insurance marker in the 73rd minute with Kaitlyn Thorogood knocking home a rebound off of a Hannah Konash shot.

Nashoba’s strong finish was a direct response to what the Chieftains felt was a lackluster start.

“We were all in agreement that we weren’t playing the way that we normally can,” Courtney said, “and we just knew that if we wanted to win that we had to come out in the second half and play the way we’ve been playing this entire season, possessing the ball, playing our game and coming out 100-percent for the rest of the half.”