LYNN — Weston High School needed only 25 seconds to find the net against Ipswich in the Division 3 North girls soccer final yesterday morning at Manning Field.
The Tigers were well aware of Weston’s scoring ability, yet that goal — which served as the springboard to a 2-0 Wildcats’ victory — seemed to surprise them.
The fact that Weston senior captains Hannah Graves and Maddie Linde helped set up freshman Katie Marlow-Benedick’s tally seemed normal. The manner in which they did it — quick, methodical and against a stiff, game-changing breeze — caught the Tigers off-guard.
“It was obviously just deadly to give up that first goal in the first 25 seconds,” Ipswich coach Nancy Waddell said. “It was everything we needed to look out for. The speed of No. 14 (Graves), she turned the corner and laid the ball off. She’s their playmaker and she played it off perfect. I think it went to No. 20 (Linde), who got the ball in.
“It was just everything that they’re dangerous at doing, they did in that 25 seconds.”
Weston’s quick strike shifted all the pressure on Ipswich (11-5-7), a team that struggled to find goals during the season.
The 14th-seeded Tigers responded to a degree, controlling play for the remainder of the first half, but doing so without creating any great scoring threats.
“I thought we fought back, (like) ‘OK, we’re ready to go now’,” Waddell said about the team’s approach after falling behind. “It’s just a hard hole to dig out of.”
In some ways, Marlow-Benedick’s goal was a wake-up call. But, unlike other sports, soccer can be unforgiving.
“As quick as it happened, yes, we were surprised. We did know that they had a really strong offense. Weston has always been a great team, so no surprise after (the goal), but definitely right in the moment that it happened we were like, ‘Wow, we really gotta step everything up,’” Ipswich senior defender Courtney Long said.