With a roster consisting mostly of seniors, it’s been an all-or-nothing season for Medfield, which moved within two wins of a state title thanks to a 1-0 win over Duxbury in the Division 2 South final at Taunton High School on Monday afternoon.
“We have 14 seniors out there and they just want it,” said Medfield coach Michael La Francesca. “And when they want it, they’ll play until the last second. I think that might have been the difference between us and Duxbury today.”
The seventh-ranked Warriors (19-0-3) dominated possession and outshot the 14th-ranked Dragons, 23-7. Despite their high shot total, it took an own goal by Duxbury (15-3-4) in the 27th minute to get the Warriors on the scoreboard. The goal came when senior midfielder Nicole Busa sent a corner kick into the box that was inadvertently headed in by a Dragons defender.
That was all the Warriors would need, as they held Duxbury without a shot on goal until the final five minutes of play.
“We’ve been strong defensively all year,” said La Francesca, whose team has only allowed seven goals all season (and never more than one in a game). “That’s where our strength comes from. We generate our offense through our defense. That’s generally what the best teams do.
“When I met with the captains a year ago, their goal was to get back to the state title game. They felt that they had what it takes to [make it] there — the talent, the desire, the dedication — and we’re getting there, just two more games to go.”
Medfield will play Belmont for the EMass title Wednesday at Braintree High School at 5:30 p.m.
Division 2 North — After losing to Middlesex rival Wilmington, 3-1, earlier this season, Belmont turned the tables with a 1-0 victory in the sectional final at Manning Field in Lynn.
The goal by Belmont (14-3-3) took both teams by surprise. Senior midfielder Corrine Ognibene launched a shot from 30 yards that landed behind Wilmington senior goalkeeper Kim Woods and bounced into the high right corner.
“I saw the opposition coming and I was aggressive,” Ognibene said. “I kicked it as hard as I could and the goalie wasn’t ready. Then we held them off, somehow.”
Despite controlling possession for the majority of the second half and getting several shots on goal, Wilmington (15-4-3) was unable to get anything past Belmont goalkeeper Maria-Alice Menatas.
“We’re not the best offensive-minded [team],” Belmont coach Paul Graham said, “but our defense is pretty unbelievable. Our league is tough, every game is a war.”
Division 3 North — They hadn’t connected on a goal all year, but when it mattered most, freshman twin sisters Emma and Katie Marlow-Benedick came through to help lift Weston to a 2-0 win over Ipswich and capture the sectional title at Manning Field in Lynn.
After controlling the opening kick, Emma Marlow-Benedick took the ball from the far right side, crossed it into the box, past the Ipswich goalkeeper, to her sister Katie, who slipped it into the net just 25 seconds into the game.
“It was a great start especially to get that goal, gave us a little bit of an edge,” said first-year Weston coach Rich Daestrela.
Ipswich (11-5-7) battled back and tried to control play with its kick-and-run style, but the Weston defense prevented the Tigers from getting any real scoring opportunities in the half.
Weston (11-7-4) got a two-goal cushion in the second half when senior Hannah Graves lofted a corner toward the far post that classmate Maddie Linde got her head on and directed into the net.
“We haven’t scored on many head balls this season, so that was nice,” said Daestrela.
The win advanced Weston to the EMass title game against Norwell on Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. at Veterans Stadium in Quincy.