FOXBORO, Mass. – It appeared that the game had been won when Foxboro pulled ahead by five goals midway through the second half of Thursday night’s Div. 2 East quarterfinal, but after a furious comeback by Weston the Warriors found themselves in a tie game with just a minute on the clock and without star player Sophia DiCenso, who was with the U.S. U-19 national team for a training weekend.
Needing someone to step up and keep the season alive, Foxboro got the ball into the hands of junior Jaime Notarangelo. She delivered. Cutting across the front of goal, Notarangelo took a couple of bumps but managed to squeeze into space and fired a shot to the back post with 18 seconds on the clock, securing Foxboro a 15-14 win and a return to the East semifinal.
“We had individual meetings yesterday and when I spoke with Julia, when I spoke with Jaime, when I spoke with Lilly, it was just who’s going to fill that role?” said Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “We always focus on Soph and what she can do, but Jaime knows that it kind of has to go on her shoulders. That she’s next in line and Julia [Kelley’s] next in line. She went to ‘X,’ got the ball, and just went.”
Thursday was always going to be a tough matchup for Foxboro. Playing without DiCenso, the two-time league MVP, and fellow senior Caroline McGeary, the Warriors were also coming off a two-week break since the close of the regular season and that rust showed at the beginning when Weston ran out to a 3-0 lead.
“We were a little more focused on not having Soph and there were players who needed to step up, and I think they did, but having those two weeks showed big time,” Sherry explained. “Then I think we got a little complacent.”
After four minutes, Foxboro righted the ship, starting with a fast break goal. Abby Hassman picked out Lilly Vey in front to make it 3-1. Two minutes later, Meghan Curran assisted on a Hassman goal to get Foxboro within one and two minutes after that it was tied thanks to the first of five goals from Julia Kelley.
Kelley gave the Warriors their first lead a minute later, as she turned the corner on the left side of the cage and beat the Weston goalie. Notarangelo got the first of her four goals from a free position to make it five straight for the hosts before a Wildcats free position goal ended the run.
That goal did nothing to stop Foxboro’s momentum and the Warriors grabbed control of the game before halftime. Curran scooped a loose ball on the edge of the crease and scored her second to make it 6-4. Molly Murphy led another break, finding Kelley for her hat trick and then Kelley fed Vey for another goal to double up Weston, 8-4. Hassman hit a cutting Notarangelo and suddenly the Warriors had gone from down three to up five in the span of 15 minutes.
Weston scored twice before the break, sandwiched around Curran’s second of the half, to keep the score close, but it felt like the home team was on the brink of putting the game away.
Notarangelo got her third on a free position in the opening minute of the second half and Kelley spotted Murphy down the middle to give the Warriors their largest lead of the night at 12-6. Weston scored back-to-back goals to put the pressure on again and nearly had the lead down to just three by Foxboro goalie Sara Addeche (12 saves) made a big stop on a free position chance.
A couple minutes after that stop, Kelley tallied another goal to restore the five-point lead. After Weston got one back, Kelley went side-arm after going around the edge to make it 14-9 with 12:38 to play. There was a feeling around the field that Foxboro had done enough to advance. Weston didn’t share that feeling.
The Wildcats stormed back into the game, despite some controversy. Weston scored to get within four and appeared to have another one shortly after only to have the ref rule out the goal for a charge that took place after the shot was released. After some confusion and discussion, the goal remained off the board.
Four minutes later, the Wildcats got the goal to cut the lead to three with 5:57 to play. Less than a minute later, the lead was down to two. Three minutes later, the lead was down to one and things were starting to slip away for the Warriors, while the visiting bench got louder. With 1:03 on the clock, Caitlyn Tabors got free for the Wildcats and finished from in close to tie it.
Foxboro needed to win the draw to avoid the upset, a part of the game that would also have been helped by DiCenso’s presence, and the Warriors did just that, scrambling to chase down a loose ball in the defensive half of the field.
“We just wanted to keep it alive,” Sherry said about the draw with the game tied. “If we got it in her stick, obviously that’s ideal, but if we didn’t then just keep it on the ground and keep pushing it.”
With no timeouts left, Foxboro played it forward and patiently moved it around, until Notarangelo moved behind the cage to take over and win it.
Sherry said, “They wanted it. We had meetings and I’m looking for potentially two more weeks out of them to just grind. It’s going to get more fun.”
Foxboro (14-7) advances to face top seed Wayland in the semifinal on Tuesday at Weston High.