LYNN — The stakes for the Classical girls soccer team coming into Monday evening’s game against Gloucester at Manning Field couldn’t have been any clearer. The Rams needed a win to secure a bid in the state tournament. Anything else would’ve spelled the end of Classical’s season.
The Rams played a stout game on the defensive end but a pair of second half goals propelled the Fishermen to a 2-0 win. With the loss, Classical ends its season two points shy of an appearance in the state tournament.
“Aside from the 2013 season, this has been a three-win team for a long time,” Classical coach Mark Ierardi said. “To go from that to coming this close to the state tournament, I’m very proud of it. What I’m most proud of is that aside from one game this season, we’ve never had to talk to the team about bringing the effort.”
The first half of the game was a relatively quiet one for the Rams. In fact, Classical flirted with trouble more than it did with a win. Gloucester’s offense kept the ball on Classical’s end of the field for the majority of the period, forcing Rams goalie Madison Dana to stay on her toes.
The only shot on net the Rams logged in the first half came in the 22nd minute, off Abigail Ierardi’s foot. The shot was saved by Fishermen goalie Maisie Grow, and with Dana denying five Gloucester attempts, the half ended in a scoreless tie.
Looking to generate more chances on the offensive end, Ierardi and the Rams were forced to make adjustments at halftime in hopes of saving their season.
“We moved a few players around,” Ierardi said. “Late in the game we went to a more offensive formation, we went to a 3-4-3. We were generating some offense but we just couldn’t bury the tying goal. We could’ve hung our heads but we kept fighting.”
Instead it was Gloucester who found its way onto the scoreboard in the 50th minute. Whitney Shrock picked up a pass in front of the net and fired it in for the 1-0 Fishermen lead.
Chasing two goals, the Rams were working against the clock the rest of the way. Ierardi, Fatima Girdia and Sydney Spiess all sent shots Grow’s way but the Fishermen keeper saved each attempt.
Gracianna O’Toole scored a goal to bump Gloucester’s lead to 2-0 in the 77th minute, all but sealing the win for the Fishermen and closing Classical’s hopes.
“We have to give respect to Gloucester,” Ierardi said. “It was a tough game the first time we played Gloucester and they’ve been tough games all season. Most of our games have been one or two-goal games and hard-fought games. I’m proud of the effort. The girls have been a pleasure to work with.”
Despite the loss, Classical has plenty to feel optimistic about moving forward. The Rams didn’t field any seniors this fall, meaning the entire core of this year’s team will return next season.
“I’m really enthused,” Ierardi said. “We have no seniors. We lost nobody. We put a lot of freshman into the fire this year. There were four freshmen that played in tonight’s game and that experience is only going to make them better.”