WORCESTER – The Newburyport girls soccer team made a state championship feel like an inevitable conclusion.
Newburyport (21-0-2) clinched its third Division 3 state championship in seven years Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Granby at Foley Stadium in Worcester, completing the first undefeated season in school history. The Clippers didn’t allow a single goal in five state-tournament games, bringing their shutout tally to 18 on the season.
“The current seniors were ball girls for (the 2007 and 2008) teams,” Newburyport co-coach Rob Gonnam said. “They said, ‘When it’s our turn, we are going to win this.’ It came full circle.”
Senior captain Jaycie Triandafilou, the team’s leading goal-scorer, notched her 20th goal of the season in the sixth minute off a corner kick from Amy Sullivan. Seeing as though the Clippers had not allowed a goal since October 7 against Amesbury, the goal figured to be all the Clippers needed to hold on for a championship.
“I got lucky on the goal,” Triandafilou said. “I hit it with my stomach. Their goalie (Brittany Hauschild) didn’t get a hand on it. I’m so grateful to get it.”
After the Clippers displayed what co-coach Kevin Sheridan called “first-half nerves,” they took control in the second half. Collectively, Newburyport hit three crossbars and had three other situations that resulted in a Clipper and Hauschild in a 1-on-1 situation.
“We struggled in the beginning of the first half, even after the goal,” Sheridan said. “We started to control the game in the second half. It was big for us. That’s the way you want to win a championship.”
Newburyport rarely showed moments of weakness all season, with two ties against Division 1 North semifinalist Masconomet serving as the only thing separating the squad from a perfect season. In Newburyport’s run through the Division 3 North sectional, the Clippers faced Cape Ann League foes in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final.