North Adams finishes season with record of 13-3-3 –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
A disappointing ending to a fantastic season came abruptly on Saturday, Oct. 29 for Coach Dave D’Avignon and his North Adams Lady Devils soccer squad as they traveled to the turf of Waverly High School to do battle in a Division III District championship game with the unbeaten Wheelersburg Lady Pirates. It was an absolutely glorious fall day for soccer with temperatures in the mid-60’s as the Lady Devils for the first time in school history stepped on the field with the opportunity to return home as district champions.
Unfortunately, that as not to be the case, as two evenly-matched teams went back and forth for 80 minutes and it was a late second half goal by the Lady Pirates that broke a 2-2 tie and propelled them to a 3-2 win over a North Adams team that just seemed to finally run out of gas.
“We were playing today minus four players, three injured and one at a family wedding,” said Coach D’Avignon. “We have been playing without the three for the last part of the season. With the combination of an exhausting semi-final game three days earlier and a very fast-paced game today, our girls were wearing down by the last quarter of the game.” To make matters worse, the Lady Devils lost senior Kitasha Mesmer with 12:27 to play with an ankle injury, leaving them further short-handed.
It was obvious from the opening kickoff that the district title game was going to be an up and down, pressure-filled affair, as North Adams goalkeeper Madee Shipley faced as much pressure as she had seen all season. The first 14 minutes were a scoreless battle, but Wheelersburg struck first when the leading scorer in the Southeast District, Morgan Willoughby, an All-State performer who just returned from a concussion, scored after a nice series of three quick passes by the Lady Pirates, giving them a 1-0 advantage.
That lead lasted a whole of five minutes as North Adams’ leading scorer, junior Lakyn Hupp, evened things up. Wheelersburg attempted a pass in their own end of the field that was intercepted by the Lady Devils’ Morgan Waits, who fed the ball ahead to Hupp. With two defenders on her hip, the junior raced about 30 yards and then fired from about 20 yards out with the left foot, catching the goalie flat-footed and finding the net just inside the right post to tie the game at 1 apiece, which is how the first half of play ended.
The second half began poorly for the Lady Devils as less than two minutes in, Wheelersburg’s Libby Miller took a corner kick from a teammate and gave the Lady Pirates a 2-1 advantage.
North Adams needed a quick response and just 30 seconds later it came and the game was tied again. Mesmer had a throw-in on the side and put some major force behind it, firing it all the way to the front of the goal where Hupp was waiting to tap it home for the second deadlock of the afternoon.
The score remained tied at 2 each as both teams managed some scoring opportunities but neither keeper let anything get past them. Finally, with 18:38 to play in the game, Wheelersburg’s Brittany Swim got through the North Adams defense and poked one home when Shipley came out of the goals to try and shut her down, giving the Lady Pirates a 3-2 advantage and through a physical remainder of the game, the gassed Lady Devils just couldn’t get one to go as they saw their season come to a close with the 3-2 defeat.
“The girls gave it their all today and that’s all we can ask for,” said Coach D”Avignon. “They played an undefeated team and hung right with them the whole way. We had chances to score that didn’t quite pan out for us. The game could have gone either way, unfortunately it wasn’t ours. The girls had a great year and fought their way to the district finals. This is farther than any North Adams soccer team has ever gone and we plan on taking it even further next year.”
The loss marked the end of the careers of five North Adams seniors-Allison Harper, Jordyn Kell, Kitasha Mesmer, Abby Shupert, and Jessica Woodall.
“We will miss our seniors,” said D’Avignon. “They are great young ladies and it has been fun watching them grow. They’ve been with the team all four years and are a large part of the reason the program has become one of the most respected in the Southeast District.”
The Lady Devils finish at 13-3-3 for the year and had several record-breaking individual performances in 2016. Hupp set the record for most goals in a single season (27) and with still one year to go, the most career goals in Lady Devils’ history (60). Mesmer took over the school record in career assists 941), while keeper Madee Shipley now has the most shutouts in a single season (10) and a career (27), numbers which she will most certainly add to in her senior season in 2017.
The victorious Lady Pirates earned a spot in the regional semi-finals with the win, but they were hammered there by Southern Hills Athletic Conference Lynchburg by a final score of 6-1.