Canton can’t halt Auburn
Rockets cap undefeated season
WORCESTER - Alysha Brunelle’s strike was all Auburn would need, as the Rockets capped off an undefeated season and claimed the Division 2 girls’ soccer state title, 1-0, over Canton yesterday at Worcester State.
The Rockets (22-0-1), who lost to Medfield in last year’s Division 2 title game, had been on a mission to get another shot.
“We wanted [the state title] so much more after getting our hearts broken last year,’’ said Brunelle. “All we’ve wanted to do from the first day of tryouts was make it back to where we were [last year] and this time take it home. And we did.’’
The Rockets looked outmatched in the first half, as the Bulldogs dominated, putting 10 shots on junior keeper Jordan Hauge, who finished with 16 saves.
In the 10th minute, Hauge made diving saves to turn away two shots from the Bulldogs (19-2-2) that looked destined for the back of the net.
“Jordan just got better, stronger, and more confident with every game,’’ said Auburn coach Larry Midura, who’s coached the girls’ program for the past 15 seasons.
Auburn’s Colleen Donahue was given the unenviable task of marking Hockomock League MVP Lauren Berman (22 goals, five assists this season). The senior did an exceptional job neutralizing the Bulldogs’ greatest threat for most of the game.
“We did nothing special. Colleen has been assigned the top striker on the other team every game this season,’’ said Midura.
“I wanted to switch up to something more drastic [to cover Berman], but my team talked me out of it. They told me, ‘Coach, we don’t have to do anything different, we’ll just go in and do what we always do with Colleen marking up.’ The rest is history.’’
Canton continued to dominate possession in the second half, but the Rockets’ defense refused to break.
In the 50th minute, Jenna Scanlon played a ball into the box from the corner that the Canton keeper couldn’t handle cleanly. Brunelle, who carved out prime position in front of the goal, found the ball at her feet and deposited it in the back of the net.
“I think because we were pushing so hard and had a lot of momentum, we got caught open a little bit on the break,’’ said Canton coach Paul Turner. “It was probably a goal that shouldn’t have happened.’’
The title was the first for the Auburn girls’ program, which surrendered only five goals - two on penalty kicks - all season.
“It’s just a great feeling because we’ve worked so hard and we’re such a family,’’ said Brunelle. “We’re just one big group of friends who know how to work the ball.’’