LOWELL — With eight minutes left in the game, the Newburyport girls soccer team had to be scratching their heads. They had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Bromfield, had owned a wide edge in play and trailed 2-1.
Bromfield had received a tremendous effort in goal from Lindsey Burke, two sensational goals by Maddie Darden, and a gritty defensive effort, but in the final minutes the Clippers scored twice to pull out a hard-fought 3-2 win.
“Newburyport is an excellent team,” said Bromfield coach Greg Wenger. “Our girls did a good job of dodging bullets, and Lindsey was just fabulous in goal. She is a big game player and proved that again today. Newburyport scored two great goals to beat us, but I’m so proud of what our girls have done and the way they battled today.”
Newburyport featured a lot of size, and quickly showed they had the skills to match. Twice in the first ten minutes they had players break in alone on Burke, but a shot by Jillian Kinter sailed over the cross bar, and one by Maggie Mahoney was just wide of the left post.
Kinter put the Clippers on top when she took a pass from Laura Muise and broke past a defender, before rolling a shot inside the left post to make it 1-0.
Midway through the half, Burke came up with a brilliant save when Mecaela Hogan sent a cross in front that was one-timed from point blank range by Taylor Bresnahan, only to be snared by the Bromfield netminder.
Bromfield had the wind to their backs in the first half but struggled to take advantage, but just when the teams seemed destined to head to halftime in a 1-0 game, Darden struck. After taking a pass from Elise Bilodeau, the junior midfielder sent a perfect chip into the upper left corner to send the game to intermission tied at 1-1. Each team had four shots on goal over the first 40 minutes.
Newburyport came out and thrived with the wind behind them in the second half, controlling the ball with precise passes and dangerous crosses. Burke came up big twice in a four minute span, before catching a break.
At 10 minutes, Kinter made a strong and determined run down the right wing and ripped a hard shot that was stopped by a diving Burke.
At 14 minutes, Burke stopped a dangerous one-timer by Kinter after a pass from Veronica Poirier set the play up.
At 18 minutes, Mahoney got one past Burke after taking a pass from Kinter, but the ball clanged off the left post and bounced away.
The Bromfield defense of Henley Siegrist, Niki Jordan, Alli Reusch and Robin Neschke were under heavy pressure as the Clippers pushed up the attack searching for the lead goal.
Newburyport had all seven shots on goal over the first 30 minutes of the second half, but Bromfield finally got their offense untracked. Robin Neschke took a pass from Henley Siegrist and fired a shot that was stopped by Newburyport goaltender Eleni Kacher.
But under a minute later, Darden fielded a pass from Anni Lierhaus and fired a rocket into the upper right corner to put the Lady Trojans on top 2-1.
The Clippers moved seven players into the offensive end and responded. After having a goal called back, Laura Muise tied the game with a brilliant 25-yard direct kick, before Newburyport pulled the game out with some final minute magic.
The Clippers gained a corner kick and made it pay off. Poirier sent a well-placed corner kick in front of the goal and Bresnahan headed it past Burke from close range.
Burke made 15 saves in the game for Bromfield while Kacher stopped four shots.
“Newburyport is as good a team as we have faced this year,” said Wenger. “We hung tough and made them work for it. It’s been a great season and we have a special group of girls.
“We’ve never made it this far and it is really exciting to have been in this game,” said Darden. “Scoring two goals in the State Final game is a thrill. We have made history.”