By Gianna Addario Staff Writer
The Salem News
---- — TOPSFIELD — To any of the Cape Ann League opponents left on the Hamilton-Wenham girls’ soccer schedule: beware of scoring machine Alana Vecchiarello.
After host Masconomet scored just two minutes into yesterday’s contest, Vecchiarello turned on the jets and exploded for four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 victory for her Generals.
The Generals (11-1-1), unbeaten in their last 10 games, fell behind after Masco’s Lexi Sheehan found Kaleigh White in front of the net and sent one past goalkeeper Taylor Morong for the first score of the game.
“I think the girls were really excited about the goal and got pumped up,” said veteran Masconomet (9-3-2) coach Paula Yanakakis. “The momentum was going with us there.
“I told the girls, though, ‘I don’t mind losing — they’re a good team — but it shouldn’t have been 4-1.’”
The win keeps Hamilton-Wenham in contention for the Cape Ann League title. The Generals are currently tied with Newburyport atop of the CAL leaderboard with 23 points.
After allowing the one goal, Morong was solid the rest of the way in turning aside 16 shots. Including White’s goal, Morong has only surrendered three goals through 13 games and has recorded 10 shutouts. The senior keeper has been on point for Hamilton-Wenham, a true ‘General’ between the pipes.
“She brings a lot to the game,” said Hamilton-Wenham head coach Alvi Ibanez. “Taylor not only brings in her soccer skills, but leadership qualities as well. She organizes the defense. Her saves and skills are just routine to her, and the way she reads the game are all reasons we haven’t given up too many goals.”
Vecchiarello was sprung for her first goal at 24:15 of the first half, tying the game on a ball from Emily Gaucher. With her quick speed and great field position, Vecchiarello is nearly unstoppable in a 1-on-1 situation.
The Masconomet defenders took turns marking Vecchiarello. Courtney Bouchard had a hustle-back play that broke up a Vecchiarello breakaway and kept the score tied. On the next breakaway, though, Vecchiarello came through as Gaucher found Vecchiarello up top once again to make it 2-1.
“We picked up the intensity and really worked together,” said Vecchiarello. “I was looking for the right space (and) the outside was pretty much wide open. Masco’s very strong in the middle, so we were trying to take it outside and cut back in. You just have find little ways to get the ball and see where you can take it.”
The Chieftains came out in the second half throwing everything they could on goal, but nothing was getting through. Paige Pratt’s free kick wound up directly on goal, but Morong got her fingertips on it. Claudia Marsh jumped on the rebound, but Morong was there to cover it up.
Sheehan and White had some solid runs for Masco and never stopped the offensive pressure.
With traffic in front of the Chieftain net, Vecchiarello nabbed another goal on a bicycle kick to put the Generals up 3-1 after Suz Rose got her the ball in front.
“I went up for it and thought I’d take a chance,” explained Vecchiarello. “I thought I actually hit Suz in the head.”
Vecchiarello’s fourth and final goal (her 16th of the season) came on another breakaway. Keeper Nancy Palermo slid out to cut down the angle, but Vecchiarello ran right around and found the wide open net.
Ibanez noted the fine play of his midfield, led by Emma Beane, Suz Rose, Liz Rose and Maddi Berthaud.