NORWELL — The Swampscott girls soccer team’s magical run through the Division 3 state tournament came to an end Wednesday night, as the Big Blue fell to South champion Norwell, 3-0, in the Division 3 state semifinal game at Norwell High. Swampscott fell behind early and had to play catch-up the whole game, something the Big Blue have not been used to this season.
“We’re not used to playing from behind, we usually jump on teams but today we got jumped on early,” said Swampscott coach Norman James. “Once we were down 2-0 we changed the formation and that left us a little vulnerable, and we just didn’t have it on offense today. We went up against a very good team today, but if you look at the goals they scored, they were mental mistakes by us. But the better team did win today, and we’ll learn from this.”
All three of Norwell’s goals came from freshman midfielder Giulianna Gianino, while senior captain Lexi Rothman and junior midfielder Kristi Vierra each had one assist.
Swampscott got a valiant effort from senior goalkeeper Nikki Rosa, who was under constant pressure the entire game. Rosa finished with 20 saves.
“Nikki played very well tonight, and she was a little nicked up today,” James said. “I just wish we could have given the goalie a little more protection out there with our defensive play.”
Norwell was on the attack from the very start of the game. The Clippers gained possession of the ball almost immediately, and they pretty much held the ball for the majority of the first half. About 15 minutes into the game, Rothman took the ball into the offensive zone and slipped a nifty pass through the Big Blue defense onto the foot of Gianino, who buried her one-on-one opportunity to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead.
About 12 minutes later, Norwell found the back of the net once again. This time, it was Vierra who sent the pass over to Gianino, and once again Gianino kicked one into the back of the net for a 2-0 Norwell lead. The Clippers took that lead into the break.
In the second half, Gianino scored about 17 minutes into play to extend the lead to 3-0 and effectively put the Big Blue out of the game. While Swampscott did have a small rally where it got a number of shots on net, nothing came of it. Norwell was largely able to play keep-away for the remainder of the game to seal the win.
Despite the tough loss, James recognizes that the Big Blue had a great season in 2018. He gave a big thanks to his group of six seniors (Rosa, Haley Bernhardt, Grace DiGrande, Molly Frauenholz, Kayla Kornitsky and Madeleine Foutes) for helping Swampscott capture its first sectional title in school history this year.
“These seniors, from day one, bought into my style of play and my philosophy, and our success came with that,” James said. “Those six seniors are great leaders and we’re going to miss them for sure.”
Swampscott closed the season with a record of 16-6-1.