Latching onto a pinpoint pass from Sarah Humes ’16, Cassie Chin ’17 calmly tucked the ball into the back of the net with only 12 minutes left on the clock against Worcester Academy in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class A Championship. Andover Girls Soccer’s defense held off Worcester’s desperate counterattacks to preserve their 1-0 lead until the final whistle to win the title.
Andover rode a dominant, 11-game undefeated streak into the playoffs. In those 11 games, the team outscored its opponents by a cumulative score of 30-10.
Andover’s regular season success landed it the third seed in the playoffs, but the team was careful to not get complacent.
“When you get to the postseason everything changes. Records are put aside and seeding is out of the picture. Anything can happen,” said Co-Captain Caroline Shipley ’16.
Andover took on Greenwich Academy in the first round, claiming a 3-0 victory. Humes came out blazing in the first half, notching Andover’s first goal. In the second half, Andover locked the victory with two goals from Chin.
After putting away Greenwich, Andover faced Taft in the semifinals. The team cruised to another 3-0 victory with goals from Zoe Oasis ’17, Kaitlin Hoang ’17 and Shipley.
The championship game proved to be Andover’s toughest battle. The score was locked at 0-0 for most of the game until the midfield broke the game open, splitting Worcester’s defense and creating a scoring opportunity.
Throughout the postseason, Andover’s defense was a crucial part of its success. Andover notched shutouts in all of its matches, outscoring its opponents 7-0 to highlight its defensive tenacity. Led by centerback Co-Captain Jeanine Moreau ’16, Andover stifled Worcester’s potent offense.
Chin said, “Jeanine is an amazing center back. Our whole back line is made up of superstars, and we couldn’t have kept the shutouts in the tournament without them.”
Antonia Tammaro ’17, who was named the 2015 Boston Globe NEPSAC Most Valuable Player and was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-New England team, was also integral to Andover’s defensive prowess as the team’s goalkeeper.
“The defense is really confident with Antonia in the back. Even when we do screw up, she is always there running across the goal and saving us,” said Moreau.
Chin said, “We have one of the best goalkeepers in the league. She got two well-deserved awards this season. Antonia was definitely key to all of our shutouts this season and especially in the post-season.”
While Andover was known as a defensive powerhouse, its midfield and offense also performed at an extremely high level. The midfield not only orchestrated Andover’s attacking opportunities, but also supported and augmented the defense.
“The midfield was really important both offensively and defensively throughout the whole season. [Humes], Olivia [LaMarche ’16], Courtney [Masotti ’17] and Morgan [Kuin ’17] all did their job expertly, keeping possession and creating opportunities for counterattack,” said Krystiana Swain ’18.
Masotti said, “We were the center piece that moves the defensive stops into opportunities to counterattack and get the ball to the forwards, creating chances for goals.”
The forwards also did very well scoring goals and making the most out of the opportunities that were provided.
“We did a good job both playing balls wide and finishing on crosses to the center and attacking down the center of the field,” said Shipley.
“There were teams that we played who were ranked in the top four who had very high end players, but we knew that whoever we had on the field, we were so confident that our team as a whole would be better than the sum of the other team because of how well we work together,” said Head Coach Lisa Joel.
Tammaro said, “We are all very versatile players, and there were a lot of people playing in different positions. This allowed us to move people around and make the most of our wide range of talent on the team.”
Coach Joel’s impressively calm composure under pressure and her ability to make smart decisions helped Andover play the best soccer it could. Throughout the season, Andover dealt with numerous injuries that often threw a wrench into its game plan.
Natalia Suarez ’17 said, “As a soccer coach, [Coach Joel]…found ways to help people step up into new positions. In games, she figured out ways to mix people around to create a spark if we were lacking energy.”
Andover prided itself on the depth of its bench. Every player throughout the season was able to make an impact on the field. The team’s versatility was an important factor in its post-season victories.
“I think that we had one of the deepest benches in New England, so we could rest players and sub and keep the team just as powerful as our starting lineup,” added Suarez.
The NEPSAC Championship was the pinnacle of Andover’s season and highlighted its core characteristics as a team.
Tammaro said, “I think a big part of our success was just our sheer determination and our competitiveness as a whole. We hate to lose and always want to win more than the other team and I think that is what led us to the championship.”
Editor’s Note: Cassie Chin is an Associate Sports Editor for The Phillipian.