AYER — Ayer Shirley girls soccer head coach Justin Carlson told his team after West Boylston equalized in the 51st minute there was no way they were going to let the Lions get out of Ayer with a tie, let alone a win.
Senior captain Olivia Warila came through in the clutch with a gritty goal off a corner kick from co-senior captain Cassidy Manna in the 70th minute to lead the Panthers (11-2-2) to a 2-1 senior day victory on Monday afternoon.
“Those are the kind of goals we expect Olivia to make,” Carlson said. “That 50-50 ball in the middle is going to kind of be her niche. She has stepped it up in a lot of big games and logged a lot of quality minutes for us.”
With the win, the 2014 installment of Panthers girls soccer is one away from recording the most successful season in school history, which dates back to the program’s inception in 1999.
“We have three games left to go to achieve the best record in school history,” Carlson said. “This was a big win for us because it gives us a pretty good chance at getting a home seed.
“It will give us a chance to play in front of our home crowd,” he said. “Over the last couple of years, big crowds have been coming out to support us. Soccer is starting to become relevant in the whole school.
They expect the girls to be successful, and I think our girls really rise to the occasion.”
Ayer Shirley claimed the lead in the 16th minute off a breakaway goal by Manna.
Manna sprinted through a double team and stopped in her tracks at the top of the 18-yard box and curled her shot into the back left corner of the net to make it 1-nil in favor of the Panthers. Ayer Shirley sophomore goalkeeper Nattie Carroll stopped 12 shots in the win.