By Dan Guttenplan Sports Editor
Newburyport Daily News
---- — The Amesbury girls soccer team and Newburyport have seemed to be on a collision course for a second meeting this season ever since the Indians posted a 3-0 victory over the Clippers Oct. 5 at Landry Stadium.
We are now on the brink of seeing the teams clash for a second time. First, Amesbury (15-0-2), the top seed in the Division 2 North tournament, must beat No. 8 Belmont this evening (7 p.m.), and fourth-seed Newburyport (14-2-2) must also defeat No. 12 Bishop Fenwick this afternoon.
If the two local teams — both higher seeds — emerge as winners today, Amesbury and Newburyport will meet in the Division 2 North semifinal later this week.
It seems somewhat fitting that for Amesbury to achieve its goal of winning a sectional title, it has to go through Newburyport to earn it. The Clippers won sectional titles in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, posting a 16-1 record in North postseason play between 2006 and 2011.
For Amesbury, on the other hand, it’s been a steady climb. The Indians went 12 seasons between state tournament appearances before returning in 2010. Last season, the team suffered a devastating season-ending ACL injury to this year’s Cape Ann League Player of the Year Megan Cullen. Still, Amesbury chipped away at its second consecutive tournament berth, setting the stage for what has transpired this season.
The Indians posted their first undefeated regular season in school history, and make no mistake, they will be considered the favorite if they square off with Newburyport in the semifinal round. Amesbury’s victory over Newburyport in October was convincing, as is any 3-0 win in soccer. The Indians closed out the regular season with shutouts in their last three games. Amesbury tied Ipswich in its opener Sept. 13, and then posted its second tie against Hamilton-Wenham Oct. 1. Ever since, the team is 10-0, and has outscored opponents by a score of 33-7.
The perception is that Newburyport always gets better as the season progresses, routinely hitting its peak in the state tournament. But the numbers show Amesbury should be better prepared if the teams meet in the semifinal. Newburyport is 2-1-1 in its last four matches.
In Amesbury’s 5-2 victory over Arlington Catholic in the tourney opener Sunday evening, Cullen had three goals. Amanda Martin and Hayley Tagliente also scored goals. Hannah Zannini, Natalie Dawes and Madison MacLean had assists.
Pentucket to face off with Salem
The area’s other top-seeded tournament team, the Pentucket boys soccer squad, will host ninth-seed Salem tonight (7 p.m.) at Haverhill Stadium. Like Amesbury girls coach Cathy Berry, Pentucket boys coach Christian Langlois said he felt added pressure in the first round coaching a top-seeded team. It didn’t turn out to be a problem for the Sachems in a 4-0 victory over 16th-seed Dracut.
Matt Farrell deposited two goals for Pentucket. Trevor Collins and Connor Beaton also scored goals.
Crowther fourth at state championships
Newburyport golfer Brendan Crowther finished off his season yesterday by shooting a 77 in the Division 3 Championships at Red Tail Golf Club, placing fourth out of 117 players.
“Brendan has certainly made the postseason something special for Newburyport golf as a junior captain,” Newburyport coach Steve Malenfant said.
Morrissey has huge day on gridiron
Former Triton football coach Jim O’Leary, now the head coach at The Governor’s Academy, called The Daily News with some news about a local athlete following a victory over Milton Academy Saturday. Rowley’s Eli Morrissey led the Govs with 206 rushing yards and five touchdowns.