By Gianna Addario
---- — HAMILTON — The Newburyport girls soccer team put itself in the driver’s seat in its quest for a Cape Ann League Division 1 title yesterday.
The Clippers (13-0-1) picked up an important road victory over CAL Division 1 foe Hamilton-Wenham (9-3-2), holding off a late surge from the Generals to win 1-0. Newburyport now sets the table for a game at Masconomet (9-0-3) Monday that will likely decide the league champion.
“It was a good game between two of the top teams in Cape Ann League Division 1,” said Newburyport coach Kevin Sheridan. “It’s a good win for us moving into the last four games of the season.”
Despite the 1-0 loss, the host Generals hung around with the CAL’s top team after giving up an early goal to Newburyport’s Carly Brand on an assist from Lauren Bean. It wasn’t exactly the outcome Hamilton-Wenham head coach Alvi Ibanez was hoping for, but he found pieces that his team can build upon to move forward.
“I liked this game, because this is the type of team we’re going to see come tournament time,” Ibanez said. “I wanted to see if we were ready for that type of play. As the game went on, at times I thought we were ready and at times I thought we weren’t. So, we’ll continue to tweak the formations that we use and get better on our execution.”
The Clippers (13-0-1) notched their ninth shutout of the season. They have allowed just six goals all season. Their possession style of play can be frustrating for defenders at times, but it has allowed them to have such a low goals-against average.
The Clippers also took a 6-0 shot advantage into the break.
“Newburyport is perhaps that best team in the league, and they have some very good forwards,” said Ibanez. “Giving up that first goal put us in a little bit of trouble, but the plan was not to panic and to adjust as they brought things to us.”
The Generals picked up the offensive pressure in the second half and moved to more of a possession style like Newburyport. Instead of just kicking the ball up field, Hamilton-Wenham tried to find the open player on the field to create runs.
The last time these two teams met, Newburyport won 3-0. It was early in the season and the Generals were incorporating several new players into the system. This time around, Hamilton-Wenham was more poised defensively, despite give up the quick marker.
Sheridan was pleased with the play of Abbie Bresnahan, Jaycie Triandafilou, Aly Leahy and Bella Palma.