By Dan Guttenplan Sports Editor
Newburyport Daily News
---- — There’s never a good time to suffer a first loss, but last night was especially painful for the Amesbury girls soccer team.
On the heels of an undefeated regular season, Amesbury drew the top seed in the Division 2 North tournament, raising the expectations for a team that hadn’t reached the quarterfinal round in more than 14 years. The quarterfinal round is where the Indians (16-1-2) season ended last night at the hands of eighth-seed Belmont (12-3-3) at Landry Stadium.
Hannah Zannini scored the lone goal for Amesbury, but Belmont recorded the game-winner off a free kick with less than five minutes remaining, making the final score 2-1. Belmont will meet fourth-seed Newburyport in the semifinal round.
“It’s one of those things that’s hard to put into words,” Amesbury coach Cathy Berry said. “The season just flew by. We just kept winning and rolling along. We handled every team. We had a couple game where we had to come from behind, but it was one of those dream seasons.”
Amesbury only allowed 14 goals in 17 regular-season games, earning the top seed in a stacked Division 2 North bracket. The Indians hoped to meet a Newburyport team that has won four sectional titles in the last six years in the next round.
“We outshot (Belmont),” Berry said. “But they played a three-back defense. When we started our attack, they cleared it out without letting us get near to the net.”
This senior-laden Amesbury team was the first in program history to earn a top tournament seed. The Indians won the Cape Ann League during the regular season, and Berry (Coach of the Year) and senior Megan Cullen (Player of the Year) earned the league’s top individual honors.
“It was an amazing season,” Berry said. “We’ve been successful. The few times we were behind, we managed to tie games or come from behind. We had a tremendous effort (last night), just like every game. We played with a total commitment to our game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”