This year’s Wilmington girls soccer team has already gone further than any other squad in program history. And they’re not done yet.
On Saturday, head coach Sue Hendee’s charges knocked off No. 2 seed Hamilton-Wenham by a 2-0 margin in the North Division 2 semifinal round. As a result, the team advanced to face Belmont on Monday at 12:30 p.m., appearing in the bracket final for the first time ever.
“It means a lot,” said Hendee. “It means that a lot of kids on the younger teams can look forward to having more success when they get to the varsity level. It’s exciting for everybody.”
With Hamilton-Wenham controlling much of the play early, momentum shifted midway through the opening half.
Generals senior captain Emily Gaucher ripped a shot off the crossbar, narrowly missing a chance to give her team a 1-0 edge. Instead, the Lady Wildcats took over possession and moved up field where Rachael Mara was fouled, a call Hamilton-Wenham’s coach vehemently questioned following the game.
On the ensuing free kick, Wilmington put the ball into the scoring area, where it bounced around dangerously. Eventually it found the foot of Alex Bischoff, who scored with 16:09 to go before halftime, just 40 seconds after the shot that clanged off the crossbar.
Bischoff worked through two defenders in transition to add an insurance tally with 11:20 to go in the game, sealing her team’s trip to the final.
“I knew we were definitely going to be good, and I knew we were going to be better than last year,” said Bischoff. “But I never expected to be in the North final.”
Wilmington’s opponent is Belmont, a team that the Lady Wildcats cruised past during the regular season. In their only meeting, Wilmington earned a 3-0 victory, though Hendee admitted that playing the game on a smaller grass field may have played a big part in that result.
Kick off Monday at 12:30 p.m. will take place on Manning Field in Lynn. Hendee said she expects nothing but a tightly contested tilt.
“It’s a familiar foe that we’ve played before, and we did well against Belmont the first time. So hopefully we can continue that,” said Hendee. “It’s going to be a battle without a doubt.”