Last night, in the Division 4 North semifinal, the Indians’ speed was downright suffocating.
Led by sophomore Chelsea Lynch, the forwards and midfielders ran circles around Austin Prep in what was a dominant 2-0 victory for the Indians. Amesbury will play St. Mary’s in the finals Sunday morning at Manning Field with kickoff set for 11 a.m.
“We couldn’t have done it without the work we all put in. We played so great, I’m so proud of us as a team.”
Lynch put Amesbury (12-4-5) ahead by a goal midway through the first half when Emma DiPietro played a ball from the midfield that got behind the Cougar defense. Lynch turned on the boosters and ran right between two defenders and beat the charging keeper with a perfectly placed low shot inside the left post.
Minutes earlier Emma Richardson had sent Lynch on a similar run, but the aggressive goalie came way out to smother the shot attempt.
This time around, the savvy Lynch was wise to the goalie’s game, and knew immediately what to do when she reached the ball.
“Chelsea creates a lot of her own ability with her speed and touches,” said Amesbury head coach Adam Thibodeau. “She had an opportunity early that she missed out on, but she came back, fixed it and scored early and that took pressure off us.”
More speed from Lynch and junior Michaela Halloran in the second half kept AP pinned in its own end.
Halloran forced a deep throw which eventually squirted out to DiPietro, who crushed a line drive toward the net. The ball deflected off a player out front and trickled to the left side of the box.
At first it looked like the Cougars would be able to clear, but Richardson raced to the loose ball and made a tough, contested shot that beat the keeper and gave Amesbury a 2-0 lead.
“I know we are a fast team, I didn’t know about them,” Thibodeau said of whether he knew going in that his girls’ speed would be the key to taking down the Cougars. “When we’re able to play with speed, we’re able to create chaos.”
It seemed like Amesbury was the livelier team all over the field as the midfielders, led by DiPietro, Halloran, Ashley Pettet and Mollie Lynch, controlled play and left the Cougars struggling to produce any plays that might swing the momentum.
“I don’t think they expected it out of us. I think they expected to beat us,” said Halloran. “They’re used to being in the final and we’re not, but we proved ourselves.”
The speed and active midfield by Amesbury made it tough for Austin Prep to sustain an effective attack. The few times AP did get into the danger areas, Julia LaMontagne, Kelsey Buonodono, Sadie Lambert and Mikayla Porcaro were there to boot the ball away.
LaMontagne was particularly effective in the middle of the field coming up to play the ball and then getting it back to the offense, allowing Amesbury to sustain pressure.
Hannaih Burdick was a force on the left side of the field with freshman Maddie Creps playing very active in the same position on the other side.
The Indians produced a couple of other promising chances thanks to Chelsea Lynch’s persistent pressure and her chemistry with Emma Richardson.
Richardson sent Chelsea Lynch into the box a few times, forcing the opposing goalie to come way out to play the ball.
Maia Etsy and Schuyler Snay also made life tough on the left side of the AP defense in the first 40 minutes.