Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
It was back to familiar territory for Coach Dave D’Avignon and his North Adams Lady Devils varsity soccer squad, as they once again made an appearance in the Division III district tournament on the magnificent turf at Waverly High School. On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the Lady Devils matched up with the Minford Lady Falcons in a district semi-final battle, after North Adams had won the regular season meeting a month ago between the two teams by a score of 4-2.
Tuesdays night’s game was pretty much straight with the script of the earlier meeting, a hard-fought contest, even at halftime, before the Lady Devils controlled the final 40 minutes and advanced to another district championship game by knocking off the Lady Falcons 4-1.
“The girls were super loose tonight,” said Coach D’Avignon. “I was the one who was a wreck. They were playing games in the locker room before kickoff and having a great old time.”
They may have been loose in the pre-game, but once the whistle blows, the North Adams girls are all business. In the match up with the Falcons, the defense dominated for the game’s first 20 minutes, but it was North Adams who broke the scoring ice first. On the left side of the field, Braylie Jones fed the ball ahead to Lakyn Hupp who then fed the ball to the center of the field. A Minford defender cleared but the ball went right to the onrushing
Taylor Hesler who made a perfect one-touch, arching shot that lifted over the goalie’s head and settled into the net for a 1-0 Lady Devils’ lead.
Seven minutes later the North Adams defense had its only real slip-up as Minford’s Erin Daniels found herself alone with the ball in the middle of the field and fired a point-blank shot past keeper Madee Shipley to tie the game at 1 where it remained until halftime.
It wasn’t long into the second half until the Lady Devils grabbed a lead they would not give up. At the 37:59 mark, it was Hupp getting her 102nd career goal, a process that began with midfielder Brooklyn Wylie taking a tap-back from Karissa Buttelwerth and feeding the ball forward to Hupp, who was just able to push the ball past the charging Minford keeper. The ball rolled ever so slowly for about 15 yards and passed the goal line just before another Minford defender could get to it and North Adams had a 2-1 advantage.
The game remained a one-goal margin until the 19:29 mark when Hupp struck again and added another to her career scoring record. Teammate Morgan Waits launched a free kick from about 37 yards out on the left, the kick traveled to about the eight, where Hupp made a beauty of a head ball goal into the right side of the net to make it 3-1 and put the Lady Devils in the driver’s seat.
Just for good measure, North Adams made one more goal, this time credited to outstanding freshman scorer Karissa Buttelwerth. The left-footed Buttelwerth takes all the corner kicks from the right side and with 7:37 to go in the game, her corner was perfectly placed, bouncing off the mid-section of a Minford player and deflected into the goal to account for the final score of 4-1 North Adams.
“While a lot of attention this year has been on Lakyn’s record-setting season, Karissa has quietly put together a very solid season,” said Coach D’Avignon. “Tonight’s goal was her 16th of the season, which is a new freshman record at North Adams.”
Once again, the North Adams defense and the play of Shipley in the goal were keys to a victory, but Coach D’Avignon was also impressed with his midfield play on Tuesday night..
“The defense gets noticed and the forwards get the glory, but I’ll tell you what, most soccer games are won in the midfield,” said the North Adams head coach. “The whole team played well tonight, but our midfield of seniors Brooklyn Wylie and Taylor Hesler, and freshman Braylie Jones, backed up by stopper Morgan Waits, set the tempo and kept the game right where we wanted it.”
The win moves the Lady Devils again into the Division III district title game, and it will be a chance for them to avenge a loss in that same spot last season. North Adams will again battle the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates, a team that defeated them 3-2 in last year’s district championship and 2-1 earlier in this regular season. The title game is set for Saturday, Oct. 28 at 2:30 p.m., back at Waverly.
“Now we are down to the nitty gritty,” adds D’Avignon. “Wheelersburg is the number one seed and we’ve played them before and we know what to expect. It will be a good game.”