MARBLEHEAD — The Division 2 semifinal battle between No. 2 seed Marblehead and No. 3 Wayland was an exciting, well-played game that was tied six times.
But two words made all the difference in this one: Tyler Phillips.
The Marblehead High senior scored six goals, including her final tally with just over a minute remaining as the Magicians shaded Wayland, 13-12, to advance to the North final..
“We came into the game knowing the two teams were evenly matched; it was foot-for-foot, step-for-step all the way,” said Marblehead (18-2-1) coach Annie Pugh. “Wayland is athletic and strong; we knew we had to play our best game to beat them.
“We’ve worked so hard to get to this point; sacrifice and dedication to the program by everybody on the team. I can’t say enough about the support we received from all the elementary kids here and the community that is behind us. That means a lot to us.”
Marblehead now faces top-seeded Winchester (a 12-6 winner over Manchester Essex) tomorrow at 5 p.m. for the Division 2 North title.
On the game-winner, Phillips was set up by Cassie Rodgers after the latter brought the ball all the way downfield and found Phillips, who fired a high shot past sophomore goalie Anna Downs.
“I never thought that would be the winning goal,” said the Skidmore-bound Phillips, a center midfielder who was also a big factor on draw controls for the Magicians. “I don’t look to put the ball any special place; I just try to get whatever shot that I can.
“This was such a tight, back-and-forth game. We got a little nervous when they took the lead, but we kept out composure.”
Phillips scored Marblehead’s last three goals. With the game tied at 10-10 and 7:08 remaining, Phillips fired a high shot past Downs, but Wayland answered with goals by Any Cunningham (2 goals, 2 assists) and Emily Barnard (2 goals) to take a 12-11 lead with just over four minutes left.
The Magicians kept calm and continued to work the ball around effectively. Wayland had no answer for Phillips, who knotted it up again on a free position shot. Goalie Allie Forman made a huge save at the other end, denying Morgan Fletcher (2 goals).
After Phillips put her team ahead for good, Forman had to shut the door with two more big stops on Cunningham and Barnard with 35 seconds left.
“(Cunningham) came in on a fast break and I was able to stop it,” said Forman, who will play lacrosse at Bridgewater State next year. “I managed to tip the shot by No. 2 (Fletcher) right after that, and we got the ball back.”
In the final seconds of play, Pugh trusted Rodgers (goal, 2 assists) to keep possession and run out the clock. She has the highest GPA on the team and was named the NEC Scholar-Athlete for Marblehead.
“Cassie is so smart with the ball, and I knew she wouldn’t give up possession,” said Pugh. “Tyler is also an outstanding player and her speed is something we really need. She did a great job on draw control, too, and that was something we knew we had to have.”
Wayland went ahead, 3-1 in the early going, but the Magicians answered with the last four goals of the first half to take a 9-5 lead at the break. Two by Meggie Collins (who finished with 3 goals and 2 assists) and one each by Emily Freedland, Phillips and Kiley Fischer (2 goals, assist) gave Marblehead a cushion, but the Warriors roared back after intermission to close the gap to 9-7 before Collins scored again. Pamela Gregory also had two assists for the Magicians.
Wayland added three unanswered scores to tie it up at 10-10 with 10:41 remaining and later went ahead briefly but couldn’t stop Phillips.
“It was a great game,” said Warrior coach Erica Kluge after her team ended the season with a 13-3-2 record. “We sometimes start a little flat, and that happened today, but we were able to fight back. Sometimes when you dig a hole it’s hard to come back and get a lead. Our goalie came up with some great saves, and she’s playing with a broken wrist.”