A capacity crowd from AB turned up in Reading on Tuesday to support the AB Field Hockey team. The media been drawn to the game due to Dennis-Yarmouth’s male goalie, who seemed to be portrayed as the Terminator of goalies or Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. AB’s Leah Cardarelli accepted the challenge and along with other seniors Maggie Bettez and Alex Loblundo, led the way to great win. Max Allen from D-Y made several athletic saves to keep the game close but AB’s stick skills and passing were too much for the D-Y defense.
Some thought Acton-Boxboro was motivated by the prospects of facing aDennis-Yarmouth team with a talented male goalie in Max Allen.
Maggie Bettez said it wasn’t even an issue.
Michigan-bound Leah Cardarelli scored twice and Bettez added another as Acton-Boxboro (22-0-1) defeated Dennis-Yarmouth, 3-0, in a Division 1 state semifinal at Reading. The Colonials will face either Nashoba or Longmeadow in the state final on Sunday at WPI.
The win was sweet redemption for the Colonials, who saw their season end on this stage a year ago when many felt Walpole scored the game-winning goal after the buzzer.
“We’ve been preparing for this game ever since we lost that game last year,” Bettez said. “I think every single person that played in that game has regrets. We just wanted to come out and play this game without any regrets.”
The annual issue of whether a boy should be playing field hockey came up when Dennis-Yarmouth (15-4-3) captured the South sectional title thanks to the stellar play of Allen, who posted four consecutive shutouts.
I got a scouting report on Max and everyone had real good things to say about him,” Cardarelli said. “He definitely played the way I thought he was going to play. He was very good.”
Cardarelli opened the scoring just seven minutes into the game when she blasted a shot past Allen. Later in the half, Bettez beat Allen to give the Colonials a 2-0 lead at the break.
“The girls played amazingly well, everyone of them had a great game,” Acton-Boxboro coach Mae Shoemaker said. “When we get that first goal, we get confidence and we play with an edge.”
When the Acton-Boxboro field hockey team practiced Monday, coach Mae Shoemaker put two goalies in net to help the players prepare for Dennis-Yarmouth goaltender Max Allen.
Allen is a menacing presence in net with an impressive kick save.
“We needed as much practice as we could get,” said senior captain Leah Cardarelli. “It paid off.”
Cardarelli scored two goals and senior Maggie Bettez added a third, helping Acton-Boxboro cruise by Dennis-Yarmouth, 3-0, in the Division 1 state semifinals Tuesday afternoon.
The Colonials (22-0-1) will face the winner of Wednesday’s Nashoba-Longmeadow game in the Division 1 championship Sunday at WPI.
Acton-Boxboro maintained the ball for most of the game and was able to score on Allen.
“My team played an amazing game today,” Shoemaker said. “They really stepped up.”
Last season, Acton-Boxboro was in a similar situation, but lost to Walpole in the state semifinals. This year, Cardarelli and her teammates made sure they avoided a similar fate.
Cardarelli, who is committed to play field hockey at Michigan next year, started the scoring early. She converted at 22:53 of the first half, bursting by two defenders and slapping a shot past Allen.
Usually when Cardarelli shoots — on a female goalie — she doesn’t think much about what she’s doing. She instinctively makes contact, expecting the ball to ricochet off something and hoping it dribbles into the net.
But against Allen, Cardarelli focused more on her placement and looked up toward the goal more.
“Against him, I was like, ‘I need to try a lot harder,’ ” she said.
Bettez increased the lead to 2-0 with a one-time goal off a corner with 4:35 left in the half. Megan Barrett fed her, and Bettez slapped the ball into the net, giving the Colonials a cushion at halftime
Dennis-Yarmouth (15-4-3) had very few chances in the second half.
“We did a little ‘no excuses’ talk before the game,” Shoemaker said, “and they were determined the whole game.”
Cardarelli scored again with 5:42 remaining, juking from left to right and rifling the ball past Allen. She had just a sliver of space as defenders swarmed her, but that didn’t matter.
Shoemaker praised Cardarelli, who she said has done an “amazing job” all year. But she quickly credited her entire team, pointing out that the win was the result of more than just Cardarelli’s work.
Fallon Shaughnessy, Sarah Bentley, and Emma Kearney also contributed for the Colonials, who have used their balance all season to blow by opponents.
Now Acton-Boxboro has a shot to capture the championship it has pursued all season.
“Since Day 1, before we even stepped onto the field for our first practice, they had a mission in mind to get to states,” Shoemaker said. “And here we go.”
On Veterans Day, the Colonials were in the state semifinals again, this time playing South champion, Dennis-Yarmouth. The result was much better as the North champion Colonials won, 3-0, at Reading High.
“We had our focus on this since even before the start of the season,” said Colonials coach Mae Shoemaker. “Our team stepped up and they were bound and determined to get to the finals.”
With the victory, A-B improved to 22-0-1 overall and they will play in the state championship game in Worcester on Sunday at WPI (noon).
Leah Cardarelli was the story of this game as she accounted for two of the three goals.
“She did an amazing job,” said Shoemaker, about the senior forward.
The Colonials controlled the territorial play for most of the afternoon with the Dolphins only having a couple of good chances late in the first half and midway through the second half.
With 22:53 left in the first half, Cardarelli scored from 10 yards out as she was on the right side and blasted a shot to the right side of the net, beating goalie Maxwell Allen.
The second tally came off a corner as Megan Barrett passed it to Maggie Bettez on the right side from 12 yards out and her shot found the back of the Dolphin net to make it 2-0 with 4:36 remaining in the opening half.
The Colonials continued to dominate the play early in the second half and kept Allen busy as he made 15 saves. Cardarelli, a Dual County League All-Star, then closed the door when she got into the open field and blasted a shot from 15 yards out by Allen that found the left side of the net.
That tally came with 5:42 left in the game.
Colonials goalie Sarah Bentley had an easy day as she made three saves in net. Shoemaker put in Haley Reierson to play the final minute and a half in goal and she did not face a shot.