By Dan Guttenplan
---- — The dream matchup between the Newburyport and Amesbury girls soccer teams will not happen in the Division 2 North tournament.
Newburyport did its part in setting the table for a rematch after an early-season loss to Amesbury by posting a 4-0 victory over Bishop Fenwick in the Division 2 North quarterfinals yesterday afternoon at Cherry Hill Field. However, the Indians fell short in their quarterfinal matchup last night at Landry Stadium, falling to eighth-seed Belmont 1-0.
The fourth-seed Clippers (15-2-2) will meet eighth-seed Belmont (12-3-3) in a semifinal matchup later this week, depending on a pending storm scheduled to pass through the area.
Newburyport took care of business first, overwhelming 12th-seed Bishop Fenwick (12-6-4) with precise passing and intense pressure in front of the visitor’s net. Sophomore Abbie Muise kicked off the scoring in the sixth minute on a pass from freshman Bella Palma. Katie Gorenflo added a goal in the 16th minute on an assist from Delaney Bartol.
Even with a 2-0 lead through 16 minutes, Newburyport’s coaching staff of Robb Gonnam and Kevin Sheridan did not feel as though the Clippers were playing to their capability.
“(Bishop Fenwick) put pressure on us,” Sheridan said. “They were playing with a lot of energy, and it put us on our heels from the start. We called timeout and re-established ourselves.”
Newburyport controlled play for much of the remainder of the game. Jaycie Triandafilou and Liza Twomey added second-half goals. Amy Sullivan had assists on both goals.
“When they called timeout, it slowed us down a bit,” Bishop Fenwick coach Karen Guillemette said. “Their first goal slowed us down a bit, but we kept fighting. Their second goal was the true nail in the coffin that really put us away. We couldn’t battle back mentally.”
Overcoming a lead against Newburyport figures to be a daunting task in the state tournament. The Clippers are 18-1 in the Division 2 North sectional over the last seven seasons. They won North titles in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.
“We know they’re a great team, and they play combination passes very well,” Guillemette said. “We tried to play away from their strengths, but when you get down, it’s hard to do that.”
By contrast to Newburyport, Amesbury’s rise to a Division 2 North contender has been gradual. The Indians snapped a 12-year stretch without a postseason appearance in 2010. That team’s tournament run was sparked by a regular-season victory over Newburyport. This season, the Indians cruised to an undefeated regular-season record due in part to a 3-0 victory over Newburyport Oct. 5.
“They (had) a good team,” Sheridan said of Amesbury, “but we played extremely poorly the last time we played. These girls (were) waiting for a little redemption, an opportunity to show who they truly are. As coaches and players, we didn’t feel we represented ourselves very well in that first game.”
For Amesbury, it was the team’s first appearance in the Division 2 North quarterfinal in Cathy Berry’s 11 years coaching the team.
“This is the first time Amesbury has been there,” Gonnam said. “They’re a team of seniors, so in their mind, it’s their last chance. Sometimes we get complacent because we’re there all the time. I don’t always think we understand or appreciate the intensity other teams bring against us. They’re starting to gain an appreciation for that. The tournament is typically when we have been at our best.”