Holliston coach Brielle Chadsey calls this year’s squad the closest group she has coached, praising their chemistry and togetherness.
She believes those factors have helped propel the Panthers to new heights this postseason.
Behind goals from Eva Bergloff, Megan Putvinski, and Maggie Fitzgerald, the Panthers captured their first Division 2 South title since 1995, blanking Tri-Valley League rival Medway, 3-0, Sunday at Milford High.
With the win, the Panthers (18-0-3) advance to Saturday’s state final against Winchester.
“Holliston’s always been strong but we’ve never quite made it this far and this year we were able to put together the physical part, the emotional part, the mental part, which has kind of been missing” Chadsey said. “We’re not as strong as past years and this is just a team we knew could do it.”
A junior forward, Putvinski made a seamless transition to the team this fall after playing for FC Stars in the development academy. The newcomer had a hand in all three goals on Sunday.
In the 15th minute, her shot bounced off the keeper’s hands, which allowed Bergloff to put home the rebound. Putvinski doubled the Panthers’ lead in the 50th minute, heading in a cross from Gwen Freeley.
Putvinksi put the finishing touches on the game with less than five minutes left when she assisted on a goal by Fitzgerald.
“This is my first year playing high school and it’s the best experience I could possibly imagine,” Putvinski said. “As a team we weren’t expecting to go this far but the team chemistry was so good and we had everything we needed.”
Division 2 North
Winchester 2, Arlington 0 — In repeating as North champions, the Sachems (18-1-3) scored in the first 10 minutes to take immediate control, and tallied in the first 10 minutes of the second half to cement their advantage at Manning Field in Lynn. Junior forward Hannah Curtin netted the first goal and set up the second.
“Having that state title last year, it’s a big reputation for us to keep up with,” said Winchester senior captain Whitney Krayer. “Being able to follow through and make it again, it’s really special.”
In the sixth minute, Winchester junior midfielder Ella Stone sent a free kick off the crossbar and bouncing into play. Curtin got enough of the rebound and gave her side an early advantage on the game’s first shot.
In the 48th minute Curtin set up another goal to give the Sachems a commanding lead. Sprinting down the left sideline, she overtook an AHS defender and zipped a pass on the ground all the way across the field. Krayer made a run down the right side and connected with the pass, sending a strong shot into the far side of the net.
“Seeing that ball slide through and I was the only one with the keeper, it was very scary,” Krayer said. “I tried to keep it low, and once it hit the net it was very exciting because getting that goal was a little more of a sigh of relief.”
Winchester junior keeper Colleen Gogolin finished with a six-save shutout. Arlington (15-3-4) finished with six shots on target.
“Last year was last year,” said WHS coach Rick Emanuel. “This year is a different team. And I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they put in. I’m really excited that this team gets to enjoy that same trip.’
Division 4 North
Amesbury 2, Manchester Essex 1 (SO) — Amesbury coach Adam Thibodeau had a feeling that the sectional final might be decided by penalty kicks.
Thanks to savvy preparation — and a standout performance from their senior goalie — the top-seeded Indians (14-1-6) captured their fourth consecutive North title at Manning Field in Lynn. A 1-1 tie lasted through two overtime periods before Amesbury won the penalty kick shootout, 2-1, to finish off the Hornets (11-4-5).
“They’re getting tougher and tougher,” Thibodeau said of the sectional finals. “We had six ties this year . . . We saw it coming. We’ve been driving PKs.”
The Indians will play South champ Millis Wednesday (5 p.m.) at Manning Field in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal.
Amesbury earned its trip thanks to the stellar play of keeper Allison Napoli, a senior captain who thwarted a penalty kick from Manchester senior Mia Cromwell in the closing minutes of regulation, and also made a crucial save in the shootout.
“It was just my instinct,” Napoli said of the regulation PK save. “It definitely gave me a lot of confidence [heading into overtime].”
Napoli has 49 career shutouts and will play basketball at Central Connecticut next season.
“[Napoli] is an incredible athlete,” Thibodeau said. “She put the team on her back today.”
Cromwell scored off an assist from classmate Maya Baker to give Manchester-Essex a 1-0 halftime lead.
Sophomore McKenna Hallinan scored on a deflection early in the second half to knot the score at 1.