The Acton-Boxborough field hockey team, ranked No. 1 in the Globe Top 20, faced what coach Mae Shoemaker called the biggest test of the young season Monday night in No. 7 Westford Academy. But the Colonials, the defending state champions, passed — with flying colors. Shoemaker’s crew held a narrow 1-0 lead at the half and used three goals from the Cardarelli sisters, senior Eleana and junior Leah, to break it open in the second stanza en route to the 4-0 victory. The Colonials (6-0) have now outscored their opponents, 32-2. “We still have a little work to do, but they’re doing a great job,” a modest Shoemaker said from a loud, excited bus making its 20-minute trip back to Acton from Westford. “My defense just played amazingly well.” Shoemaker said the Grey Ghosts came out “firing on all cylinders” early. Even when the Colonials jumped ahead, 1-0 — Leah Cardarelli drove down the right side and crossed to senior Eleni Neyland, who tipped it in — Westford kept the pressure up. At one point, Acton-Boxborough had to defend against six consecutive corners, according to the coach. “The first half, Westford was just playing amazing field hockey,” Shoemaker said. “We played catch-up in the beginning. It took us a while to get calmed down.” The second half was a different story. Leah Cardarelli scored six minutes in, then again with 10 minutes to go. Eleana Cardarelli capped it with a tally in the last minute. Eleana now has 10 goals on the season, while Leah has eight. Senior goalkeeper Kathryn Salemme, who has been splitting time with junior Sarah Bentley, got the start and posted yet another Acton-Boxborough shutout. Shoemaker said she has been alternating goalies thus far, and the decision Monday was no easier than it usually is. She asked Salemme how she felt after warm-ups, and the response earned her the start: “I just want to win.” “She had a fire in her today,” Shoemaker said. “Sarah [Bentley] has been playing amazingly well. It’s really hard to decide, but I had to go with my gut today.”
Acton-Boxborough 4, Westford 0
Monday, Sep. 23, 2013, at Westford
Updated: Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 9:23 p.m.