By Gianna Addario
---- — TOPSFIELD — If Masconomet girls soccer coach Paula Yanakakis gave out game balls, freshman keeper Katy Pelletier would’ve most certainly earned one yesterday afternoon.
The host Chieftains played to a 0-0 tie against Cape Ann League Large frontrunner Newburyport, but it was Pelletier’s 23-save effort that had people talking as they left the field.
“She definitely kept us in the game,” Yanakakis said after her team’s second consecutive tie. “Katy got hurt during the Triton game (last Friday) and was questionable. She practiced on Sunday and felt fine, so she was able to go.”
Pelletier notched 14 saves in the first half, including some brilliant diving stops. From a spectator’s view, Pelletier looks like a seasoned veteran playing far beyond her years. She earned her fourth shutout of the season and second against the Clippers (the teams also had a scoreless tie in Newburyport last month).
In their second go around playing each other, the Clippers (14-0-2) pretty much held possession for the majority of the first half. While, the Chieftains (10-0-5) are a strong team on the ground, Newburyport is just as capable in the air.
Masconomet senior captain Paige Pratt played in her first game back, since pulling her hamstring two weeks ago. Pratt and fellow center midfielder Courtney Bouchard usually have no problem getting the ball up to leading goal scorer Kaleigh White, but the Clippers crowded and the midfield and marked White the entire game.
“When we tried to get the ball through the middle, Newburyport was always there to stop it,” explained Pratt. “Every time we’d try to get it over them in the air, they’d win it. So I moved up top to get some more speed up there, because I didn’t feel like I could do as much in the middle.”
Newburyport held Masco to just six shots on goal. Clipper captain Carly Brand stuck with White for the full 80 minutes and barely allowed her any touches. At times White had three defenders on her, which certainly limited Masco’s chances of scoring.
“Kaleigh is such a great player and I give her a lot of credit; it’s frustrating when you have someone following you and covering you the entire game,” noted Brand. “It was my job not to let her get the ball, and I did the best I could.
“There was a more riding on this game: we have an undefeated record and didn’t want give that up. We needed to play our style, short quick touches, but we weren’t able to finish.”
Defensively, Izzy Scarpone and Sarah Katz were solid for the Chieftains and gave Pelletier a sense of security in net.
“If they get beat, they stay calm and collected,” said Yanakakis. “They’ll come from behind and try to sweep the ball away, and they’ve been playing great like that all season.”
Newburyport and Masconomet are the last remaining undefeated in the CAL Large. While both clubs have yet to suffer a loss, the Clippers have more wins and will most likely earn the CAL title since Masconomet has three more ties.