Unfortunately, Oliver Ames was unable to clear the hurdle that was Natick, the top-seeded team in the sectional. The Redhawks (19-1) scored a goal in each half to hand the Tigers their first loss of the season, 2-0, in the D1 South Semifinals.
“They’re a really good team…you have to worry about this player, then that player, then this player,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer. “We couldn’t get to the keeper. That was the place I thought if we could get to. We played 80 minutes, didn’t get a corner until the 81st minute.”
“We played hard, I thought we played better in the second half when we were going into the wind. It was a great season. It’s a marathon, you can’t put it all on today, you have to look at all of the accomplishments. I thought we showed a lot of grit in the second half, even having to go into the wind. We had more chances in the second than the first half. Natick is tough to mark, they move the ball well, they switch positions, they move well. Their two forwards are a handful to deal with.”
Natick had the majority of play from the get-go, Shelia McQuillen rocking the crossbar less than three minutes into the game.
After some back and forth play, Natick found the back of the net for the first time in the 19th minute. Julia Adelmann created some space just outside the area and quickly hit the shot just under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead.
“Natick getting that goal going against the win was huge,” Sellmayer said. “The wind definitely affected the play today but it affected both teams. We mis-marked them on that play. We were trying to figure out how to mark them and I thought we were a little cautious in the back at times.
“We never had a big chance, we came close when Zoe hit that ball in in the second half and it bounced around but it just never came about, it is what it is.”
Oliver Ames created a pair of chances late in the first half. First in the 26th minute, Dana Lowney’s cross popped to Jackie Mills but her bid hit off the crossbar and stayed out. In the 35th minute, sophomore Zoe Chazan uncorked a free kick from 35 yards out but it was flashed wide.
Tigers goalie Regan Benton was called upon less than two minutes into the season half. McQuillen did well to beat her defender in the corner and fired a near post shot but Benton pushed it aside and the rebound was dealt with by the defense.
In the 43rd minute, the Tigers had a legitimate shout to get even in the game. Abby Reardon and Mills created some space in the area, the ball falling to the feet of the latter. With Mills’ back towards goal, a Natick defender appeared to clear her out from behind. Instead of a penalty, the ref played on.
McQuillen had another chance in the 48th minute but clanked the post. In the 62nd minute, Gwyn Godin found Adelmann wide open in front of the net but an incredible diving save from Benton kept the deficit at one.
“Regan and Emily Freeman had a great game in the back,” Sellmayer said. “We switched Zoe into the midfield to create some chances so we were a little shorthanded in the back but Emily gave it all she could for 76 minutes. Regan is a field general, she had a couple of huge saves. That second goal went through someone’s legs so she was screened, can’t fault her there.”
A move to midfield helped Chazan create a pair of chances for Oliver Ames just before the 70th minute mark. First, a long service on a free kick bounced into the area, popping free from Natick keeper Ashley Bianco but no one on OA could latch on before it was cleared.
Two minutes later, Chazan’s switch found Lauren Wright but her one time bid towards the near post was stopped by Bianco.
Just moments after OA’s chance, the Redhawks tacked on an insurance goal. Kalyn Onorato connected her cross with McQuillen for a one timer that snuck past an OA defender, giving Benton little chance at the near post.
Oliver Ames girls soccer had a final chance late on a corner kick, but the ball bounced through the area and was eventually cleared, summing up the Tigers’ frustrating night.
The Tigers finish at 16-1-4 with the program’s first ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title and the team’s fourth straight league title.
“It took over 20 games for us to lose,” Sellmayer said of the season. “Eight games in the season, when Francesca [Calabraro] went down, everyone wrote us off. Then Julia [Roy] went two games after that. Those were our two leading goal scorers at that point. A lot of people stepped up, a lot of people grew. A lot of people talked a lot about how we were always the small side champions in the Hock. We went to the big side this year and we were still champs.”