Girls Soccer Stuns Loomis in NEPSAC Championship Game

Receiving a perfectly played ball placed by Katie Michaelson ’08, Emily Little ’09 fired off a high-powered shot past the Loomis Chaffee goalkeeper to propel Andover past the five-time New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Champions, 1-0. With the amazing victory, Andover captured its first league championship since 1999. ?Andover came into the championship game filled with confidence based upon its recent play. Earlier in the season, Andover snapped Loomis’ 52-game winning-streak with a stunning, 2-1 upset win. On Sunday, the Loomis players looked for revenge and their sixth NEPSAC championship in a row.?From the opening whistle, both teams came out of the gates at a high speed. Each team challenged the opposing goalkeepers, firing shots toward the net. Loomis established a physical tone, tackling its Andover opponents to gain loose balls. However, Loomis’ offense couldn’t get into a rhythm, as the Andover defense controlled the middle of the field by cutting off Loomis Chaffee’s usual passing options. Amanda Brisco ’10 and Little kept the pressure on the opposite end of the field by keeping a tight grip on the opposing defenders. The first half ended in a stalemate, as both defenses limited scoring chances.? After the start of the second half, Andover came out dominating the middle of the field, passing the ball through the Loomis defense with ease. Disaster struck for Loomis when Michaelson made a quick run down the right flank of the field. Michaelson then played a perfect ball to Emily Little ’09, who took advantage of this wide open opportunity and blasted a shot into the net to make the score 1-0.? After Little’s goal in the 53rd minute of the game, Andover’s defense played flawlessly. Led by Nicole Lee ’08, Catherine Coppinger ’09, Katherine Sherrill ’10 and Courtney Macdonald ’11, the defensive unit for Andover played what Coach Lisa Joel called, “a textbook exhibition of how the flat-back four defense should be played.” Denying Loomis their passing options in the middle of the field, Andover’s defenders forced Loomis to shoot from the outside, making it excessively difficult to score.? Playing spectacularly on its side of the field, Andover quelled the tremendous offensive firepower of Loomis Chaffee. In addition, goalkeeper Alex Farrell ’10 played fabulously in the clutch, recording 23 saves on the day. In the end, Loomis couldn’t penetrate the Andover defense and the game ended with Andover on top, 1-0. ? The road to get to the finals was not easy. In the first round, Andover upset fourth seeded Kent in a 3-1 road victory in which Little scored two goals and drew a foul in the box to set up a penalty kick that Co-Captain Jenna Castellot ’08 finished to win the game. In the semifinals, Andover edged past the eighth seeded Westminster School in a 4-1 overtime victory on the Smoyer Family Field. Westminster tied the score at 1-1 with two seconds to go at regulation to send the game into overtime, which consisted of two periods. Despite not having momentum going into overtime, Andover maintained its poise and came back to win the game in a stunning display of offensive skill. The first goal was scored when Brisco fired a shot from inside the 18, which the goalkeeper stopped. However, when trying to clear the ball away from the goal a Westminster defender accidentally knocked the ball into the net, making the score 2-1. In the second overtime period, Co-Captain Castellot nailed an amazing shot from the edge of the goalie box to make the score 3-1. Then, to clinch the game, Co-Captain Rosie Raymond- Sidel ’08 played a perfect cross into the box where Eliza Nguyen ’09 was waiting on the far-post to finish the last goal of the game.? The goal was a magnificient way to end the final game of the season. After the championship game, Coach Joel said, “This is a special moment for an absolutely great group of kids.” After a 2-1 loss to NMH under the lights, Andover’s record was an average 6-4, despite playing well up to that point. However, Andover responded, going on a 6-0-2 run to clinch a spot in the playoffs, eventually winning in the championship game against Loomis Chaffee.? “The reason we were able to meet with the success we found can largely be attributed to our outstanding 10 Seniors,” said Coach Joel. The Senior Tri-Captains of Castellot, Dana Feeny ’08 and Raymond-Sidel provided excellent leadership throughout the whole season, resulting in the memorable championship game victory.