Photo: Senior Carey Allard at the end of the game with Woburn.
Using a physical shutdown defense and capitalizing with a stylish goal on one of its two shots on net, Woburn High Girls’ Soccer upended favorites and hosts Belmont, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 North sectional playoffs held on a breezy, chilly Harris Field on Saturday, Nov. 4.
On a night which third-seed Belmont held a distinct advantage in the run of play, the Marauders frustrating lack of a finishing touch set it up for an early exit from the playoff picture at the hands of the sixth-ranked Tanners.
“We did everything but score,” said Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham after he spent 10 minutes addressing his emotional players on the field after the game.
“So many shots and passes inside the six [meter goal area] and none of them went in,” he said.
Belmont finishes its season at 14-3-0 while Woburn (13-5-1) continues its playoff run in the semi-finals against Middlesex League foe Winchester on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Both teams came into the game after disappointing performances; the Marauders suffered its worst defeat of the year, 4-1, at Winchester in the final game of the season while Woburn – which had led the Middlesex League race five games earlier – came to Harris Field on a 0-4-1 run without a goal during that streak.
The game was tightly played on both sides without much offensive rhythm or flow as Woburn kept its eye on Belmont’s senior forward Carey Allard who is a favorite to be named league MVP. On the other side, the Tanners found it hard to break the Marauders steady backline of senior co-captain Natalie Marcus-Bauer, junior Megan Tan, and senior Emily Duffy.
But it was Woburn who took advantage of an opening midway through the first half. The Tanner’s Kelsey Long took a diagonal pass from a teammate and before the Marauders could switch defenders hit an open right foot shot 20 meters out that curled past Marauder goalkeeper Chloe Tingos into the left corner of the net.
Belmont nearly got the goal right back when a corner kick was headed by junior Ella Gagnon that scrapped by the right post by Tanner goalkeeper Kelsey Qualey.
But for most of the next hour, the Tanners relied on its strength by playing with five defenders in front of its net while placing a single player up front. Belmont did come close on several occasions especially early in the second half when senior Morgan Krauss and midfielder co-captain Emma Sass each sent balls through the penalty area that somehow did not find a teammate to close the deal.
And while co-captain senior Courtney Gray and Allard were able to work well down the left side, they were ultimately met by three and then four Woburn players who cut off the passing lanes and push them outside the penalty area.
As the final whistle blew, the Marauders were left to watch as Woburn rushed the field to celebrate the upset.
“It’s a great group of kids. I told them this [season] is something they will never forget,” said Graham.
“Belmont is still one of the best teams in the state, I don’t care what anyone says. But you have to score to win,” Graham said as he walked off the pitch.