By Matt Jenkins
---- — LYNN — There were no surprises. The Hamilton-Wenham girls soccer team knew exactly what they were up against in last night’s Division 3 North semifinal at Manning Field.
Hamilton-Wenham coach Alvi Ibanez and his Generals were well-acquainted with their opponent, Cape Ann League rival Newburyport, and they had the necessary game plan in place.
Executing that game plan once again proved to be too difficult against the talented Clippers. Newburyport came through with two late first-half goals and advanced with a 3-0 victory.
“The plan was to keep the ball a little bit, keep it 0-0 game and maybe win it towards the end,” Ibanez said after his team closed the season at 13-5-3. “You have to know that we have played them five times in two years and we haven’t scored a goal on them yet. So it was not about scoring, it was about keeping possession of the ball and if we have it, they can’t score.”
For most of the first half, the Generals’ plan worked. But with less than five minute to play in the half, Newburyport broke through.
The Clippers’ Delaney Bartol blasted a corner kick out front that the Generals couldn’t get a handle on and senior captain Carly Brand knocked in the loose ball.
“It was a little disappointing because I told the girls that most of the close games here, at this level are sometimes won or lost on re-starts,” Ibanez said. “We practice our corner kicks and all that, and to give one up on a corner was just a little disappointing.”
The first goal seemed to give Newburyport (18-0-2) momentum and changed the Generals’ approach in the process.
“This is a very tough team. We were very concerned about some players, Jaycie (Triandafilou) up front. We were also concerned about Amy Sullivan through the middle and Carly Brand,” Ibanez said. “Those were the three that I just thought were game-changers. I thought we had them neutralized in the first half. I know that we had to control the ball, that we had to keep it from them and we did that for the most part. The goal came and that sort of changed the dynamics a little bit.”
With Hamilton-Wenham trying to push forward, Newburyport struck again. This time, Brand ripped a shot from 25 yards out that found the net with less than two minutes remaining in the half.
A two-goal deficit was too much for the Generals to overcome.
The season ended with a loss, but Ibanez was proud of the way the Generals competed.
Ibanez highlighted the leadership of his captains — Caroline Gribbell, Carolyn Cook, Elizabeth Rose, Sam Charette and Suzanne Rose.
“It was a terrific season,” Ibanez said. “You would say it was a rebuilding year, but it turned out to be 11-4-3. Not bad. I was very proud of the captains and the leadership they displayed throughout and by the second game of the season I realized we were going to have a good season.”