Aztec U17 was one of the best soccer teams at the regional tournament held at the University of Rhode Island. Aztec girls are the Massachusetts State Cup champs and went all the way to the finals before losing to Pennsylvania, 3-1.
Caitlin Harty of Beverly was the leading scorer with eight goals and Peabody’s Madison Doherty had four. Aztec beat New Hampshire, 6-3 in the first game and tied West Virginia, 1-1 before defeating Maine, 6-2 to win its pool. In the semifinals Aztec posted a 5-3 win over Delaware.
Other local players were Stephanie Kawalski (Danvers), Katharine Barrand (Beverly/Governor’s Academy), Kaleigh White (Middleton/Masconomet), Kristen O’Connor (Beverly), Kristina Caradonna (Lynnfield/Pingree School), Mia Bongiorno (Marblehead), Caitlin Lodi (Peabody), Hannah Becker (Hamilton/Pingree), Katherine Kreider (Boxford/Phillips Andover), Alix Bryant (Salem), Kasey Provost (Peabody/Pingree), Casey Cook (Beverly).
In addition, standout Kerri Zerfoss of Peabody, who plays for Pingree and Aztec U15, was invited to play up for regionals.
“We played extremely well, scoring lots of goals during the tournament,” said coach Dushawne ‘Doc’ Simpson, who is assisted by Javi Mejia-Blau. “Our attacking four of Harty, White, Doherty and Kreider were awesome and accounted for 17 of the 19 goals we scored.
“Bryant was phenomenal in midfield, and I thought Stephanie May (of Central Catholic) and Caradonna had strong performances. Kreider and Harty were injured in the semifinal, and I think that cost us in the final. Harty played and scored but was only at 50 percent, and Kreider couldn’t go.
“It was a real pleasure coaching such a talented group of players,” added Simpson, “and I think we represented Massachusetts well.”
Frank Benea and Eddie Aiello have coached some pretty talented Peabody West Little League Williamsport all-star teams over the past 24 years. They are together again this year — having won the District 16 crown on Thursday night — with an impressive looking squad comprised of 12 boys and one girl.