Central Catholic delivers
WORCESTER — When Casey Grange took over as coach of the Central Catholic girls’ soccer team this season, she held a meeting to assess the players’ expectations.
It turns out she underestimated her team.
“The team said, ‘Win a state championship,’ right away,’’ she said. “I was like ‘Whoa, whoa, let’s be realistic here. Let’s just try to make it to the tournament first and then advance once we get there.’ They owe me a big ‘I told you so,’ right about now.’’
The Raiders got a first-half goal from freshman Courtney Walsh and with 8:11 remaining, senior captain Jill Lane scored the winner in a 2-1 victory yesterday over Shrewsbury in the Division 1 girls’ state championship game.
Central Catholic (17-1-3) was aggressive in the early going, creating the better scoring chances, but was unable to finish.
With a little more than three minutes left in the half, Walsh, who was very active up front throughout the game, got a pass from Alex Riddle toward the right side, squared her shoulders to the goal and tucked the ball into the near corner, past a diving Devinne Zadravec.
“As a freshman you don’t want to ruin your chances,’’ Walsh said. “I missed the shot before and there was kind of a lot of pressure, so I wanted to make that one. It was a huge relief.’’
Grange and the Central Catholic coaching staff shouted “0-0’’ to the girls as the second half opened, implying them to play just as hard as they did when the game was scoreless.
It didn’t work. The Colonials (15-4-2) took a corner kick that bounced around in the box, but the Raiders failed to clear. Shrewsbury sophomore Jess Morana made them pay, putting a shot in the back of the net to tie it in the 57th minute.
With urgency reintroduced into the Central Catholic side, the Raiders began to really push offensively. Lane got the ball and took it up the right flank. She got past the defender and unleashed a shot from a tough angle that landed in the top far corner of the net.
“After I got it, I just blanked out. It was crazy,’’ Lane said. “You can’t even describe the feeling of getting that goal and knowing you put your team in a good position to win the state championship.’’
Grange said this was a special team from the start and she didn’t have to do much to inspire her players.
“I was just a guide for them,’’ she said. “They know how to play soccer, I just got them to play together I think.’’