BOXFORD — There is nothing more thrilling in sports than a last second comeback.
That’s what No. 2 seed Masconomet came up with on a bitterly cold afternoon. The Lady Chieftains were on the verge of seeing their undefeated season end at the hands of underdog Newton North (No. 7 seed) with no time left on the clock when they scored the biggest goal of the season to tie the game at one.
Masco then came up with an even bigger one to win in sudden victory, 2-1, to advance to the Division 1 North semifinals. The Chieftains will face Acton-Boxboro at Reading High later this week (the MIAA hadn’t announced the date last night).
The Tiger bench was jumping up and down, cheering wildly in anticipation of the upset victory when Masco was awarded a corner. They put the pressure on and were awarded another corner opportunity that paid off when junior forward Dana Balek beat Tiger goalie Ashley Caira to knot it up at 1-1 and send the game into overtime.
The 15 minute sudden victory period is played with seven against seven. It is something the Lady Chieftains (17-0-3) practice regularly anticipating the situation to occur in the tournament. Momentum was on their side after Balek’s goal, and it didn’t take long to decide the outcome.
“We tried different combinations of seven-on-seven in practice to assess who had the skills you need,” said Masco first year coach Leah Gunner. “We picked our seven for speed, stick skills, and endurance.”
With fewer players on the field the opportunities for long passes are much greater, and Masco’s speed was definitely a factor. Midfielder Julianna Kostas hit a long shot to Maddie Doyle, who found the back of the net at the 3:16 mark, and the celebration began on the Masco sideline. Gunner said Kostas sees the whole field well, has a hard shot, and exceptional stick skills.