In an electrifying Saturday game on Graves Field, Liberty Stam ’22 rebounded the ball outside the 18-yard box into the top left corner, a beautiful goal that put Andover Girls Soccer in the lead over Choate. The team went on to win 2-1. On Wednesday afternoon, Lily Haik ’22 led the team with two goals and one assist in a dominant 4-1 victory over Brooks. The team’s record now stands at 4-1-4.
Graves Field has been home to practices since the beginning of the Andover Girls Soccer program and, according to Kate McCool ’23, playing on it served as a motivating factor in the Choate game.
“We only play on Graves field once a season against Choate every time, [so] we were saying, ‘We don’t lose on Graves… this is our kitchen,’ This is a place that we spend two hours at every afternoon, so Graves [is] a really special field to us. We didn’t want to lose on it. We wanted to crush Choate on Graves, on our home field, so [there was] definitely a lot of passionate, intense energy before the game,” said McCool.
Going into the game, the team knew that Choate was going to be a strong opponent; however, it kept a positive mindset that capitalized on Choate’s over-confidence, according to Tori Darling ’22.
Darling said, “Before every game, we have this mindset of ‘We need to go in, we need to try our best, and we need to show up’ because any opponent on any day can surprise you. I think Choate came in a little confident because they’ve played teams we’ve lost and tied to. [But we knew that [these] records [don’t determine who wins].”
In addition to Andover’s positivity, Darling believes the support from injured teammates allowed the team to remain courageous and composed against the obstacles they faced.
“Our coaches always tell us that when you play to not make mistakes, you play scared. You can only make good passes, those through balls, and take those amazing shots when you have courage. The players who are injured, they played a really important role in supporting us and being sideline coaches and just keeping morale really high,” said Darling.
Tactically, the team performed well both offensively and defensively, nullifying a strong Choate attack and being clinical in the final third, according to McCool.
“I think Choate had a very good attacking third, which was a bit challenging for our defense. I think more than ever, our defense really came together to defend Choate’s attack. Also, we just did a really good job on finishing our shots because we have been working on taking more shots and placing them,” said McCool.
According to Darling, the team was propelled forward by multiple individual efforts against Choate.
“Lulu Rourke [’23] played outside back, which is actually not her normal position… and she just had an incredible game moving the ball forwards and really being an offensive player even though she was playing defense. She was a huge threat offensively,” Darling said.
“In the last few minutes, there was a corner kick, and Sofia [Traversari ’23,] our goalie, made a diving save that none of us [were] expecting. We thought it was going to be a tie game in the end, but she really dove out there, put her whole body on the line, and saved [the shot],” Darling added.
McCool believes the perseverance and focus required to secure the win on the team’s home field made the victory extra rewarding.
McCool said, “When we heard the final whistle, we all ran towards [Traversari]. It was like a mosh pit or doggy pile… We just all ran to each other and hugged each other. I think out of all the teams I’ve ever been on, this team really cares for each other, and we are a family. This win was so important for us to win on our home [and] out of all the games we’ve played, this was the most special one to us.”
Andover will face off against St. Paul’s on Saturday and Governor’s on Wednesday.