NORWOOD, Mass. – For the first time in her four-year varsity career, Attleboro senior Anna Beck was experiencing the playoffs. The Bryant University-commit and recently named Hockomock League MVP made sure to extend that experience, and Attleboro’s season, for at least a couple more days.
Beck scored a pair of goals leading the Bombardiers back from a goal down to secure a 2-1 win in the opening round of the playoffs at Norwood on Wednesday afternoon. It is the first postseason win for the program since 2015.
“On thing about this team is I really have confidence in them as a comeback team,” said Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes. “They’re really able to overcome. They dig deep, come back and not settle.”
Norwood jumped out to a lead midway through the first half, but Beck brought Attleboro back level, finishing off a sequence from a corner with a backhand shot through traffic. The Bombardiers had a number of chances to try and grab a lead but it stayed tied into the final two minutes when Beck was given space on the edge of the circle and her blast took an audible tip off a Norwood stick and snuck inside the post.
“That was just so relieving because it was such a close game and I really thought it was going to get into overtime, but when that went in it was like, oh my god!” Beck explained after the game.
“It feels great,” she added. “First time making the playoffs and win the first game, so it’s really exciting.”
The final 90 seconds of the game felt a lot longer, as the Bombardiers held on against a final Norwood flurry. Beck said, “I just wanted to get the ball and hold onto it and not give it to the other team. We got it and…we did it.”
Despite that opportunity, the Mustangs looked more comfortable in the opening sequence and were able to grab the lead. Maggie Curran found space in front of goal and had three tries before finally getting one past an Attleboro stick and into the net. It was almost doubled on another great move up the field but Curran sent it just wide.
“I think there were a few nerves for our girls,” Antunes said. “Norwood being a team that we don’t normally see and don’t know much about was a little unsettling, but Anna really fired everybody up today.”
Beck helped turn the tide. She broke free down the right side for the first time and then smacked a pass down the sideline to Ellis, who in turn sent it across to Emily Rosen. The initial shot was blocked but won Attleboro a corner. The Bombardiers nearly scored but a shot was blocked with a leg on the goal line. The resulting corner found its way to Beck, who went to her left and picked out the far corner.
She said, “It really helped boost up our team. We’ve struggled in the past coming back from a deficit but we’ve gotten better at that and just getting that one goal and tying it gave us a little motivation, that extra little bit to keep going.”
The Bombardiers almost grabbed the lead with five minutes to go before the break but Hannah Webster had her shot kicked aside by Norwood goalie Talia Fruci. In the final seconds, it was Norwood’s turn to come close as Molly Mannering crossed it to Allie McDonough right in front only to have goalie Ava Haggerty come through with a clutch save.
Three minutes after the break, the Mustangs nearly broke free again but McDonough was stopped in front of goal by Kiera Murray, who was the last line of defense.
Attleboro had its chances in front. Beck forced a kick save on a shot from distance and then Ellis was denied from close-range on the rebound. Beck then fed Ellis in front only for Fruci to make another stop and Sarah McMahonswung the rebound narrowly wide.
Amanda Burns had a pair of chances with 15 minutes to play. Her chipped shot was blocked aside and then her rebound effort was kicked wide as well. Five minutes later Compton set up Ellis again in front only for Fruci to make another big stop to keep the game tied.
Haggerty made her fourth stop of the game to keep McDonough out on a quick break, but it was mostly Attleboro with the pressure and it finally paid off with about 90 seconds remaining in the game. Beck was given time to wind up and fire a shot into a crowd in front. The ball took an important touch in the crease before nestling into the corner.
“As a collective group, this team may be a little young, but they all want it so badly and they’ve all worked so hard all off-season,” said Antunes. “They’ve come so far even since August. It’s night and day.”
She added, “They’re such hard workers right up to the last second obviously, to the last 1:40. They’re smart and work so hard and work together.”
Attleboro (9-7-3) will travel to Flahive Field to take on No. 4 seed Westwood on Saturday afternoon.