By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Robb Gonnam has coached enough state tournament games to realize a scoreless tie through halftime marks the perfect time to go into desperation mode.
Gonnam’s top-seeded Clippers (17-0-2) found the urgency they needed yesterday in the second half of a 2-0 victory over eighth-seeded Ipswich (9-5-6) in the quarterfinal round of the Division 3 North tournament at Cherry Hill.
Jaycie Triandafilou and Abbie Bresnahan scored goals for Newburyport in the first 10 minutes of the second half, turning a potential scare into an opportunity for the Newburyport coaching staff to give key reserves some tournament experience. Julia Kipp and Amy Sullivan had assists.
For Newburyport, the first half was an exhibition on how to come as close as possible to scoring without actually finding the net. The Clippers hit the crossbar on three separate occasions, and also beat Ipswich goalkeeper Hannah Lynch two other times, only to have fullbacks clear the ball out just before it rolled over the goal line.
“We didn’t necessarily play bad in the first half,” Newburyport co-coach Gonnam said. “We just didn’t score. They were under the gun. There was urgency. We could have been up 5-0 before we scored the first goal. Those are the games you often lose in the state tournament.”
Newburyport made its return to the Division 3 North tournament for the first time since 2008 after four seasons of competing in the Division 2 North tournament. In Newburyport’s last two appearances in the Division 3 tournament in 2007 and 2008, the Clippers won state championships.
Prior to yesterday’s game, the Clippers had not played since Oct. 25. With the first-round bye, the Clippers had a 10-day layoff between games.
“It took us a while to get our legs under us,” Newburyport co-coach Kevin Sheridan said. “After a long break, it’s always nice to get one out of the way.”
Newburyport will play fourth-seeded Hamilton-Wenham (13-4-3) in a semifinal matchup tomorrow. All four semifinal teams — Newburyport, Hamilton-Wenham, Lynnfield and Triton — are from the Cape Ann League. The Clippers won the CAL Kinney Division with a 16-0-2 record in league play.
“These girls are expecting to do well,” Gonnam said. “We have five All-League players and 10 seniors who have played since they were freshmen. They should have a good run, they’re expected to. That’s why there was a sense of urgency at halftime.”