The fostering of that trust has been one of the more remarkable developments for a defensive unit that mixes seniors who have been playing together for years with underclassmen who have barely any varsity experience at all. Among the players who compose the unit are seniors Pettigrew, Shannon Tinkham, Ali Peffer and Lilly Donovan, sophomores Olivia Kearney and Courtney Ryan, and freshman Elizabeth Fortier.
But the trust factor has been especially important for freshman goalkeeper Izzy Sarra, who came into the season expecting to be a field player before Batchelder decided to put her in the cage. Since making the switch, Sarra has performed at an All-Star caliber for the Clippers, and she credited her teammates for allowing that to happen.
“Honestly, I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me,” Sarra said. “Being a newcoming goalie, it’s really been an easy transition considering everything, and they couldn’t possibly be better about it. Mary, Lilly, Shannon, they save me on a daily basis every single game, and it’s really nice to have them there to support me and have someone to fall back on, especially when the nerves set in.”
Sarra led the Cape Ann League in goals against average this season (7.73), and since the state tournament began she has been the backbone of the Clippers’ defense. During Newburyport’s comeback wins over Manchester Essex, Marblehead and Norwell, Sarra made a handful of big saves that either preserved the lead or prevented the other team from getting any further ahead.
Batchelder said her performance against Marblehead in the sectional finals particularly stood out.
“She was having a really tough game, I think she only had one save in the first half, but then she came up with three huge saves at the end and was the reason we won the game,” Batchelder said. “For a goalie, it’s always about staying positive and looking for the next shot and not worrying about what just happened.”