Washburn downs Ashland in EM final

11 years ago

Washburn downs Ashland in EM final

By Theron Larkins
Special to The Star-Herald

    WASHBURN — On a brisk Wednesday afternoon in Washburn the wait was finally over as two Class D juggernauts squared off for the Eastern Maine championship.

Contributed photos/jMavor Photography

    BEAVER team members whoop it up after beating Ashland last Wednesday, 2-1, in the Eastern Maine championship soccer match played in Washburn. The team went on to win the state title three days later.

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    CARMEN BRAGG of the Washburn Beavers, left, tries to get to a loose ball as Ashland’s Caitlin Paradis of the Ashland Hornets reacts during last Wednesday’s Eastern Maine championship match played in Washburn. The Beavers came away with a 2-1 triumph.  SP-washashgJMS-dcx1-arsh-46

    The No. 2 Ashland Lady Hornets made the short trip to the home of the No. 1-ranked Lady Beavers to compete in the much anticipated rubber match between the two 15-1 rivals. The two split their regular season meetings with each team picking up a win on the opposing school’s field. After impressive regular season campaigns by both schools they made their way through the postseason with some clutch performances and flashes of sheer dominance. This was especially the case for Washburn, who outscored their opponents 18-1 throughout their first two matchups.
    Coming into the Nov. 6 game on the road, history seemed to be in favor of Ashland. The Hornets are the only team to have defeated Washburn in the last two regular seasons. Having already picked up a 4-0 victory in their first meeting in Washburn on Sept. 9, they came out of the gate ready to play. In the third minute, LeAnn McNally connected on a corner kick with Savannah Flint, who netted the opening goal.
    Ashland Coach Peter Belskis mentioned earlier in the week how important it was for his team to control the ball early. “I thought we were excellent to start the game. We knew the early goal was important and felt if we could get one more before they did we would stand a great chance,” Belskis said.
    With McNally’s early goal, which was her 18th of the season, the Hornets looked impressive, but her team was unable to maintain a majority of the ball possessions throughout the match.
    The score would remain 1-0 until the 30th minute when Washburn’s leading goal-scorer, Mackenzie Worcester, headed in her 50th goal of the season; tying the game and swaying the balance toward Washburn.
    “The momentum really shifted in their favor after that goal late in the first half,” Belskis said, “we knew they were getting the better of us in shots, but we were getting quality chances and still felt extremely confident going into the second half.
    The second half opened with much of the same as the score remained tied and the Beaver girls controlling the game.
    “It was definitely a big boost going into halftime. We came out much more aggressive in the second half so I think that was a very important moment for our team,” said Washburn’s coach, Marcie Barbarula.
    The score remained 1-1 for the majority of the second half despite some good chances by both teams, including an Ashland free kick that could only find the cross bar and a missed penalty kick opportunity by Washburn that would have given the team a late lead.
    The Lady Beavers had a number of quality chances as they managed to put 23 shots on Ashland goalkeeper, Macie Bellanceau, who made nine saves on the day. It was again a corner kick that led to Washburn finally breaking the tie on Carsyn Koch’s go-ahead goal with only three minutes left on the clock. The game would end 2-1 in a fitting close-knit contest that left both coaches proud of their teams.
    “We told ourselves we could get to the Eastern Maine Championship from Day One and we did that, then it was time to try and steal one from a great team on the road, which we knew we were capable of doing. We were just a little bit short,” said Belskis.
    “This is a great up-and-coming program here at Ashland and I look for this to be a great rivalry over the next two or three years.”