North Adams girls top Southeastern 4-1 –
By Mark Carpenter –
It was a perfect fall night for soccer on Wednesday night in Waverly and it turned out to be a near perfect night of soccer for Coach Dave D’Avignon and his North Adams Lady Devils as they faced off with the Southeastern Lady Panthers in a Southeast District Division III district semi-final contest. The Lady Devils were looking to avenge one of their two losses on the season and they did it in convincing fashion, breaking a second half 1-1 tie with three unanswered goals to claim the 4-1 win and a berth in the Saturday, Oct. 29 district championship game.
It has been a record-setting season for the North Adams girls and that continued with Wednesday night’s win, as they became the first girls soccer team in school history to advance to a district title game, and picked up Coach D’Avignon’s 250th win as a varsity high school coach.
“The girls were loose,” said Coach “D”. “They were singing and having a great time on the bus ride over here. They were ready to play. They have been working hard all year to get where they are right now. I don’t know how far this ride will go, but they are just now reaching their potential as a team. As a coach, it’s great to see. After the game, the girls were as happy as could possibly be. The win felt good!”
Playing on the beautiful green turf of the Waverly football field, the Lady Devils made an early statement, in fact a “less than two minutes into the game” statement. With 38:08 showing on the first half clock, a centering pass by North Adams’ Abby Shupert was intercepted by a Southeastern defender who cleared the ball, but right to the waiting Allison Harper, who from about 22 yards out, one-touched it into the air and over the arms of the outstretched goalie for the quick 1-0 lead. Those next 38 minutes were a scoreless and physical defensive struggle, and the Lady Devils went to the intermission still clinging to the precarious one-goal advantage.
Six minutes into the second half, the lead was gone as Southeastern’s Kali Mitten tied the score. A questionable foul was called on North Adams’ Taylor Hesler and the Lady Panther’s Audrey Wheeler took the free kick and chipped it over the defense to Mitten who won a one-on-one showdown with Lady Devils’ goalie Madee Shipley, but that was to be the only time that Shipley was beaten all night.
The sign of a good team is the ability to answer adversity and just four minutes later, the Lady Devils did just that and took the lead for good on an unusual goal, but a goal nonetheless. About 20 yards out, North Adams’ Kitasha Mesmer made a long throw-in towards the goal, but it was cleared back by the Lady Panthers, only to see Mesmer track it down and launch a rainbow towards the back post and teammate Abby Shupert was right on the spot for the tap-in and the 2-1 lead.
As the on-field action intensified, no one supporting the Lady Devils thought that a one-goal lead was safe, and with 9:34 to play, those fears were dimmed by North Adams freshman Alaina Eiterman. When Lakyn Hupp got control of the ball and made a run with a defender right on her hip, she fired a shot that the Southeastern goalie mishandled and Eiterman was right on the spot to knock it home and give her team a 3-1 advantage.
With nine minutes left, it was time for the Lady Devils to protect the two-goal lead, which they did to perfection, and just for good measure, added a goal in the final minute. Playing with two forwards and an extra defender, Hesler controlled the ball near mid-field and passed the ball forward to Mesmer. The North Adams senior flicked the ball over her head, turned, gathered it in, and fired a shot from 10 yards out for the score. Coach D’Avignon substituted for the senior after her goal, as she left the game with large tears of joy streaming down her face and 41 seconds later, the final whistle sounded and a wild celebration began on the North Adams sideline and in the stands with their faithful fans.
“It was so good to see all the parents, teachers, and friends enjoying the victory,” added Coach D’Avignon. “That kind of support just makes it all more fun for the girls. Everyone stayed around long after the game celebrating, hugging, and taking pictures, just savoring the win.”
The 4-1 victory improved North Adams to 13-2-3 on the season and now “boldly sends the Lady Devils to where no team has gone before”, and that is to the district championship game, where they will battle the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates, who stand unbeaten at 15-0-2, but one of those ties came on Oct. 8 with the Lady Devils, a 1-1 draw.
“By playing Wheelersburg, we have the chance to finish what we started with them earlier this month with the tie,” said Coach D’Avignon. “We’d really like to win that game and bring a District Championship back home to North Adams and the SHAC.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s district title game is set for 1 p.m. back in Waverly.