Whitman-Hanson has sights set on state title
A players senior season is her last chance for glory.
However, not everyone finishes their season on a happy note. In the playoffs, that just means an abrupt end for the seniors high school soccer career. They arent ready for it; theyre playing and preparing to win and move on.
A loss means its all over. There is no next year. They will no longer put on the school uniform and line up with their teammates, some of whom theyve bonded with for four years.
With that in the back of a players mind, the games mean that much more. The level of play rises and the emotional highs and lows are that much more intense.
Undefeated Whitman-Hanson, the Globes No. 1 team all season, hopes to finally get a state title in the final season for its UCLA-bound senior, Samantha Mewis.
The Panthers came close last year, winning the South Division 1 championship, but fell in the Eastern Massachusetts finals to a senior-laden Acton Boxborough 1-0 in double overtime.
This is the teams last title run with Mewis, and they will be looking to get the most out of one of the top players in the state.
She wont be the only senior leading a strong team in the playoffs.
Northeastern league MVP Angela Ellison and Peabody will look to top their North Division 1 finals appearance last year.
Division 1 will not be an easy field to navigate. Defending EMass champion Acton-Boxborough still believes they have what it takes to win the title for the fourth consecutive year. Throw in Bishop Feehan, Masconomet, Oliver Ames, and Central Catholic -- all with only one loss each -- and things could get very interesting, very fast.
Another senior, goal-scoring phenom Brittany Russo of Danvers will aim to leave her mark on the Division 2 scene.
Last year, the Falcons were ousted in the EMass finals by Cardinal Spellman, and they will be out for vengeance.
Dont expect Cardinal Spellman to give up their title easily, however. The Cardinals have won seven straight games and nine of their last 10, including impressive victories over Top 20 staples East Bridgewater, Bishop Fenwick, and Brockton (twice).
Also lurking in Division 2 is Duxbury and Melissa Gavin -- the Patriot Leagues leading scorer -- Middlesex league champions Belmont, and East Bridgewater and Rachel Blauner, the second leading scorer in the EMass.
Division 3 is wide open. Last years champion, Millis, wont be around to defend its title. South Division 3 No. 1 seed Nantucket comes into the tournament undefeated at 18-0 and with the top scorer in all of EMass, Sabrina Dawson (27 goals, 24 assists). The offensive firepower continues with Alexa Crosby, who has 33 goals, most in EMass.
Norwelllast years South Division 3 No. 1 seed had another strong season and has a pair of 20-goal scorers in Allie Debenedictis and Krista Prouty.
Another potential contender is Shawsheen. In 20 games, theyve only lost once and they have shut out the opposition an impressive 16 times. They got past the opening round for the first time last season and will look to push even further.
Weston is another team to watch out for. Playing in the Dual County league, the team has been battle-tested by powerhouses Acton-Boxborough and Concord-Carlisle.
For many of the players and teams in the tournament, the hope is that past experiencesboth successes and failureswill propel them to even greater heights.