TOWNSEND — North Middlesex came into Tuesday night's tilt with the usually strong side from Algonquin on a bit of a low note following a draw at Hudson the night before. However, Charlie Valacer's Lady Patriots came to play in their main event meeting at John E. Young Memorial Field in Townsend.
A header from sophomore forward Shalee Callahan off a cross from senior Lauren Sheehan in the 38th minute was all the Lady Patriots needed to stave off the feisty Lady Tomahawks by a score of 1-0.
But, the real star of the night was North Middlesex senior goalkeeper and captain, Julia Murray. Murray put on an absolute clinic between the pipes, stopping 23 shots in the win.
“Julia Murray has played like that all four years for us,” Valacer said. “She is a four year player, a captain and a three-year starter. That was good. We bent, but we didn't break.”
Algonquin shifted a couple more attackers up top late in the second half to try and challenge the veteran keeper. But, Murray was able to keep her composure.
“That was really impressive,” Murray said on the team win. “They just kept coming at us. It was really intense. The adrenaline was kicking in, definitely. Seconds go by so slow in the final two minutes. Especially, when you are only up, 1-0. It's unreal. I am still in shock.”
North Middlesex recorded just six shots in the match to the 23 belted on goal by the Tomahawks. But, as the old adage goes in soccer. It just takes one to win.
Algonquin started the match fast and furious with a pair of opportune chances at goal. Murray was able to steer Algonquin forward, Kendall Sweeney's curving blast at goal. Sweeney hooked a chip shot from outside the 18-yard box, but Murray climbed the ladder and tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Algonquin senior captain Emily Dohlstrom glided through the North Middlesex midfield and got off a howling shot at net. Murray came off of her line and chased the ball towards the sideline.
An Algonquin attacker closed in on the ball and kicked another shot at goal. Stellar backup play by defenders Sydney Morgan and Samantha Donohoe stonewalled the Algonquin chance.
“Sam Donohoe played well at sweeper. She is a sophomore that is still learning the position,” the coach said. “Sydney has played well all year long. Emily Valacer covered Dohlstrom well in the middle. She (Dohlstrom) is a very good player.”
North Middlesex broke the stalemate in the 38th minute off a brilliant cross from the right side by Sheehan. Prior to the Callahan goal, an offsides call negated a North Middlesex tally, but Callahan would not be denied.
Sheehan's cross had its crosshairs fixated on the forehead of Callahan. Callahan arched her neck back and flicked the ball past the Algonquin goalie for the eventual game-winner.
“I don't remember ever beating Algonquin in the past 10-years I've been with North Middlesex soccer,” the coach said. “I don't know that it has ever been done. You don't get the chance to beat Algonquin too many times in sports.”
North Middlesex returns home Thursday for another doubleheader with Shrewsbury. The action starts with the boys at 5 p.m., followed by the girls at 7 p.m. Follow Ed on Twitter and Tout/@EdNiser.