TAUNTON, Mass. — Emily Grotz did a little bit of everything on the soccer field to help Oliver Ames advance to the Div. 1 state semifinal in a 3-2 victory over Whitman-Hanson last night in the South sectional final at Taunton High.
Grotz scored two goals and showed off her versatility as she played three different positions as the Tigers still have a shot at winning a fourth state championship title.
“She plays everywhere,” said Tigers head coach Britt Sellmayer, whose team is now 17-2-3 this season. “She’s a four-year varsity player and she’s so fast. She’s technical and can strike the ball with both feet and she was our MVP today, so thanks to her.”
The multi-dimensional Grotz was unable to shake free at the beginning of the game from her attacking forward position, but made a difference when Sellmayer backed her up a bit to the midfield.
Grotz corralled an attempted clearing attempt by a Panthers’ defender on a corner and sent a drive towards the far post into an empty net for the 1-0 lead at 16:30 of the first half.
“We weren’t getting goal-line and we score most of our goals from crossing,” Grotz said of the switch to midfield. “I just saw the hours of practice that we put in practicing corner kicks and I was just there to shoot and it went in.”
The Tigers kept possession for most of the first half with the wind at their back and Grotz made sure to take advantage of that positioning. With a shade over seven minutes remaining in the game, Grotz gained possession with a single defender on the right side of the field.
She made a move towards the right corner, but stopped on a dime and cut to the middle to shake free of her defender. Grotz was able to strike a left-footed drive into the back of the net from the top of the box to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
“I just decided to cut-in and I saw a good portion of the net,” Grotz said. “I have a pretty good left foot and I used it.”
Whitman-Hanson (16-4-2) came out with a better effort in the second half and netted two goals to the Tigers one in the second half, and in the most important moments of the match Grotz was lined up in the defensive end shadowing some of the Panthers better goal scorers.
“She got the two goals for us, but in the second half I felt there most skilled player who was causing problems was Cassie Chernicki. So we took Emily and put her on [Chernicki] and that kind of slowed them attacking on the left side.”
As mentioned, the Panthers did make things interesting with a penalty kick goal from Mackenzie Hatfield at 33:21 of the second half.
Michaela Simoneau got the lead back to 3-1 for the Tigers at 19:35, and Hatfield knocked in a ball in traffic with four minutes remaining in the game to give the Panthers a chance at a win with the clock winding down.
“We’ve gone 19 straight games without a loss and this was the 20 th and we happened to lose,” said Panthers’ head coach David Floeck. “We were hoping to get by, but we should have no shame in the way we played.”