LYNN — Throughout its season-long march to perfection, the Newburyport girls soccer team has left no doubt that a Division 3 state championship is the only goal this season.
The Clippers (20-0-2) are now one win away from achieving that feat after posting a 3-0 victory over Division 3 South champion Cardinal Spellman (18-2-2) last night at Manning Field in Lynn. The Clippers have a chance to become the first undefeated team in school history Saturday (3 p.m.) when they meet Division 3 West champion Granby at Foley Stadium in Worcester.
“Since Day 1 in preseason, we’ve been working all season for one goal,” said Newburyport captain and Division 3 Player of the Year Aly Leahy. “That was to go undefeated and win a state championship. We have one game left.”
The Clippers posted their 13th shutout in a row, a stretch that dates back to Oct. 7. Sophomore Abbie Bresnahan, whose sister Taylor won state championships with Newburyport in 2007 and 2008, was the catalyst for last night’s victory. The center midfielder had a plan to pressure the Cardinal Spellman defense in hopes of generating goals or penalty kicks. She earned a penalty kick in the 39th minute and scored a goal in the 58th minute.
Newburyport got on the board in the 39th minute, when Cardinal Spellman defender Siobhan O’Connell pushed Bresnahan off the ball inside the box. Carly Brand scored her 15th goal in the last 12 games on the penalty kick, giving the Clippers a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
“Our goal was to attack the box,” Newburyport co-coach Robb Gonnam said. “We went to see them (in the Division 3 South final) Saturday night, and we felt that might be their only weakness. The goal was to get the ball to Abbie and have her attack. That’s exactly what she did.”
Newburyport took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but felt it had been outplayed on a 30-degree windy night. The Clippers regrouped and dominated play for much of the second half. They earned another penalty kick in the 53rd minute when Cardinal Spellman defender Lisa Evans was called for a handball in the box.