WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Weston head coach James Blackwell was laughed at by every member of his team and most of the town when he exclaimed that his team was going to win the state finals this year.
That bold statement came after a paltry six-win season in 2009, but now the Wildcats are one win away from that very promise.
Weston's amazing turnaround continued as the Wildcats edged Dover-Sherborn, 2-1, in the Division III state semifinals held at Weymouth High School. With the victory, Weston moves on to the state finals this Saturday at 11 a.m. to face the winner of Central champion Sutton and West champ Gateway.
Emma Dagres scored both tallies for Weston, who improved to 16-5-2 after not even reaching the state playoff tournament only a year ago. The junior striker scored goals in the 37th and 39th minutes of the game with the second goal coming seconds before the halftime whistle. The eventual game-winner was off a goal kick from sophomore Madeline Linde which beat the Raiders' defense and allowed Dagres to hit the back of the net in stride.
“We knew going up two goals would put it in the bag and even though they scored once we were able to manage," said Dagres. “(Blackwell) always stresses to be up two goals because at 1-0 a team can tie it up and make it basically 0-0 again."
The two goals came less then three minutes apart with Dagres keeping the ball on the ground to beat Dover-Sherborn netminder Jessica Goudreault twice in similar fashion as Goudreault challenged Dagres outside the box on both occasions.
The two tallies were just enough for sophomore goaltender Alissa Duffey, who found herself in a pickle in the second half with tremendous pressure coming from Dover-Sherborn crosses and corner kicks in the final six minutes of regulation. The Raiders had a chance to have both boys' and girls' soccer teams represent the school in the state finals, but the girls came up just short of the final prize despite controlling the offensive pressure for most of the second half.
After letting up a Maddie Dunn goal in the 44th minute of play, Duffey settled down and was outstanding with four huge saves down the stretch to save the one-goal win. The victory gives Weston their first trip the the state finals in 11 years.
“If it's not Emma, then it's Maddy (Linde)," said Blackwell, who is only in his first year at the helm, about his two young strikers. “It seems if one is doing the scoring, then the next game the other one steps up but this is huge for our program and yeah, they laughed at me before the season but here we are now.”