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Medfield girls soccer falls in epic shootout

BY JOSH PERRY (@Josh_Perry10)
Thu, Nov 12, 2015

It was a battle between perennial contenders and the intensity on the pitch matching the hype off it. Both teams pushed high up the field, pressuring the ball wherever it was passed. Chances were at a premium and, on the sidelines, fans and neutrals had no clue where a winner may come from.

It turned out that the winner was the Medfield right back with a shot that Medfield coach Mike LaFrancesca called “the strongest and hardest” that he had seen in 20 years of coaching.

With just 10 minutes remaining in a scoreless game, junior Sydney Joline stood over a 25-yard free kick extending out from the corner of the Canton penalty area. It was not the ideal angle, but the Medfield bench told her to go for goal and so she did, unleashing a rocket inside the far post and setting off a raucous celebration for the Warriors.

“All year, all year,” said LaFrancesca about the contri-butions of Joline. “She can take a shot with her left foot or her right foot and I’m so grateful she put one in today.”

He is also grateful to have that weapon in his pocket for playoff games like this where goals are going to be hard to come by during the run of play. He explained, “Having a weapon like that is so important. That was the difference tonight. We were able to get on the board because of a play like that.”

Canton coach Kate Howarth, who played collegiate soccer at the University of Miami, could only shrug in frustration after the game. She said, “It wasn’t savable by any stretch of the imagination. It is what it is; you can’t do anything about it.”

Maggie McCarthy added a second goal in the final minutes and Medfield pulled out a 2-0 win over Canton at World War II Veterans Memorial Field. The Warriors advanced to the Div. 2 South semifinal to face Notre Dame Academy (Hingham).

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said LaFrancesca. “We knew that they had a strong goalie, some young talented players, but our game plan was to keep attacking until we found the back of the net, keep composure at all times, and finish the ball.”

Medfield had early chances when the Canton keeper spilled two shots from close range, but she made up for it with a diving stop on Taylor Sherman’s effort. Joline also had two free kicks that foreshadowed her winner, sending one from the right just over the bar and having one from the left saved off a tough bounce.

Canton’s best chance came late in the first half when Tessa Cudmore beat Medfield keeper Sarah Graham to a loose ball but she was not able to finish into the empty net.

The second half was a midfield battle with neither team creating much in the way of clear scoring chances. In the 70th minute Joline struck and forced Canton to push further up the pitch. Cudmore again created the best chance on a quick counterattack down the left channel but senior left back Sarah Crofts made up the ground coming all the way across the field to snuff out the chance.

“We have a solid back four and we work with them almost every single practice,” said LaFrancesca. “We actually put them in a scenario like that an she did it. It’s great to see.”

McCarthy added a second with only two minutes remaining, sliding to meet a long throw and slipping it under the advancing keeper.

At the final whistle, it was LaFrancesca that led the charge onto the field to celebrate a big road win and the Warriors return to the semifinal.

On Wednesday afternoon at Milford High, the Warriors saw their season come to a dramatic end. Medfield stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to force overtime against Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) and, according to a neutral coach, dominated the extra periods.

Unfortunately, the Warriors could not find the winner and were forced to go to penalties. The shootout went 18 rounds and NDA used two keepers before finally the Warriors missed and were knocked out of the tournament.

See more photos at
https://hometownweekly.smugmug.com/Medfield/Medfield-School-Sports/Medfield-girls-soccer-at. — Hometown Weekly Staff

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