The Spartans face Pingree School at noon, Saturday, November 16, in South Hamilton
Given the chance to attend, and with classes done for the day, dozens upon dozens of members of Spartan Nation “brought the rowdy” down 495; traveling from Groton through Marlborough to Southborough, where they claimed prime space at midfield.
“Just before kick-off busloads of LA students took over the sideline directly across from us and you could feel the emotion and support.,” explained Coach Healy. “We had faculty and faculty families braving the arctic temperatures to be there for these players.
“We all had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to our school when the whistle blew at the end of the game.”
While the game was never a lock — LA led from late in the first half — the Spartans were paced by two goals from Marley Chappel ’21. Then, buoyed by stellar goalkeeping from co-captain Faith Gargano ’21, the Lions couldn’t solve the Spartan defense.
“As far as our play on the field, defense to offense it was an absolute team effort,” said the head coach, who recently spoke about her club’s team-first attitude. “Marley came up huge for us with both goals with Brooke Ahern ’22 setting up both plays.
“What often gets overlooked is that those two players are able to break free and attack because Mary Jo Smith ’21 and Cam Weaver ’21 are absolute rock-solid defending; winning balls and distributing in the middle of the field.”
Meanwhile, one-on-one, LA controlled the Lions’ skill players.
“St. Mark’s has one of the most dangerous attacking players in the ISL,” added Ms. Bohlin Healy. “Janayah Body ’23 kept her at bay
“Then, you have Faith in goal,” added Coach Kim. “She came up huge stopping a breakaway midway through the first half, which could have been a game-changer for St. Mark’s.”
Thankfully for LA, and despite an outstanding effort by St. Marks, that tide-turning comeback by the Lions never materialized.
So, the real game-changer might be the Spartans ability to remain focused against a higher-seeded opponent, turning back a relentless attack time after time; a mode Coach Healy quickly re-adopted and promoted after LA’s stunning quarterfinal victory.
After all, no. 1-seeded Pingree, 18-0-1, defeated Williston Northampton, 4-1, on Wednesday. They wait for the no. 5 Spartans in South Hamilton on Saturday.
“I could go on and on and name a moment when each player impacted the game,” said a calm and collected Coach Kim. “But I’d rather have us get back to business and get ready for Saturday!”