LYNN— Sometimes one goal makes all the difference. That was the case during Thursday’s Division 4 North semifinal at Manning Field between No. 10 St. Mary’s and No. 6 Amesbury.
The Indians scored the goal, held the Spartans away from their net for the majority of the game and punched their ticket to the sectional final with a 1-0 win- ending St. Mary’s season.
“We expected the same game we got from them,” Spartans coach Jim Foley said. “They’re a great program. We know each other, we play each other every year. They’ve won the last two North finals. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle.”
The lone goal was scored by junior defender Gracie Doherty on an assist from senior midfielder Maia Esty.
St. Mary’s player of the game was freshman goalie Jayda Mateo, who finished with seven saves.
“(Mateo) kept us in it,” Foley said. “She made some great saves. She kept us in it right until the end. The goal that went in was a tough play, we couldn’t clear it out. She had to guess on it. We couldn’t clear it out and we should’ve.
“As usual Morgan (Mackey) had a great game,” Foley added. “That’s why she’s an Eastern Mass. all-star. She’s a great player. Our outside mids, Katie (O’Neill) and Jenna (Foley) played great, as did Emily (Egan) and Sherly (Feliz). Unfortunately we couldn’t get much offense going. You have to be able to score a goal, especially when you’re down. We couldn’t do it.”
Both teams spent the first half getting a feel for one another. Through the first 18 minutes, neither goalie had to break a sweat. That changed when Mateo made her first save of the game with 22:00 minutes to play in the first half, denying a one-on-one shot. Amesbury created another scoring chance five minutes later when Sara Johnson fired a shot but her kick sailed off the mark. At halftime, both teams were locked into a scoreless tie.
Amesbury ramped up its attack in the second half and it didn’t take long for the Indians to break the scoreless tie. McKenna Hallinan missed on a header that hit the post three minutes into the period. Emma DiPietro sent a nice shot Mateo’s way from 25 yards out but Mateo came out of her post and made the save with 29:30 to play. With 27:27 on the clock, Amesbury’s efforts paid dividends when Doherty found the back of the net on a header for the 1-0 Indians lead.
“It was a great first half,” Foley said. “I think we had a better first half than the second half. I think we had chances right at the start of the second half that we didn’t cash in. Then they had that 10-minute stretch where they took it to us. My fear was they were going to score and they did. We couldn’t generate any offense after that.”
Chasing a goal with the clock working against them, the Spartans found themselves playing with urgency in hopes of keeping their season alive. Mateo helped the cause with a couple more saves down the stretch but St. Mary’s couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
With the win, the Indians advanced to Sunday morning’s (11) sectional final at Manning Field.
The Spartans end the season at 13-7-1.
“It was a good season,” Foley said. “We won the Lynn City title. We play in a tough league. Fenwick’s in the (Division 3) North final. We did what we could. Our seniors, one being my daughter (Jenna Foley), Sherly Feliz, Joslyn Deschenes, they gave us everything in terms of leadership and play. We’ll be back next year.”