By Gianna Addario
---- — HAMILTON — The Hamilton-Wenham girls soccer team channeled its inner field General during yesterday’s Division 3 North quarterfinal matchup against the reigning state champions of Weston.
Going up against the defending champs is no easy task, but the fourth-seeded Generals protected their home field with composure en route to a 3-0 shutout victory over the 12th-seeded Wildcats.
“We were the higher seed and we were playing at home, so we wanted to come out with a lot of confidence,” said Hamilton-Wenham senior captain Suz Rose. “As captains, we wanted to show the younger girls on our team that we needed to pressure them the entire time and come out strong.”
The win sends Hamilton-Wenham (13-4-3) into the semifinals for the second time in two years. The Generals square off against Cape Ann League Large foe Newburyport tomorrow at Manning Field in Lynn (5 p.m.).
The Generals came out on the attack early on, putting a handful of shots on goal in the opening minutes. They controlled the tempo and speed of the game, which set the tone the rest of the way.
The offensive pressure paid off after sophomore midfielder Emma Beane put one by Weston keeper Jessica Burress to go up 1-0 15 minutes in.
“Scoring early and first is always good, especially in tournament play,” said Hamilton-Wenham head coach Alvi Ibanez. “It forces the opponent to make some adjustments and keeps us moving and get some momentum.”
Junior striker Jillian Kefalas made it 2-0 at the break with a late first half marker. Kefalas, Madeleine Berthoud and Beane worked hard to get balls to the front of the net and also recorded assists in the win. As a team, the Generals had eight shots on goal in the opening period.
Berthoud netted an insurance goal late in the second half on a beautiful cross from Beane inside the box.
Senior keeper Cassie Vitale netted her ninth shutout of the season and second of the tournament. Carolyn Cook, Sam Charette and Phoebe Shaw played excellent defense in front of her and only allowed four shots on net.
“We knew they were going to be a really tough team, so we wanted to come out really strong on defense,” said Charette, also a senior captain. “We were all talking a lot and communicated really well, which sort of helped us early on. After Emma scored early, we wanted to step it up on defense to make sure Weston couldn’t come back.”
Suz and Liz Rose played well at center midfield, while sophomore Molly Eagar was fantastic off the bench playing outside midfield.
The Wildcats wrapped up their season at 4-9-6 and despite the shutout, Burress kept them in the game early on with a number of excellent saves.
While Newburyport is a tall order to handle tomorrow, Hamilton-Wenham will take its three-game win streak into the semis. Both teams are very familiar with each other as the Clippers shutout the Generals in both regular season contests.
“A bunch of us play club with some of the girls on the Newburyport team,” added Charette. “They’ve been our rivals the last couple of years, but if we come out strong again, I think we’ll stand a good chance.”