East Longmeadow keeps unbeaten streak going


Oct. 15, 2012
East Longmeadow's Ashley Horrigan carries the ball into the box in a 3-0 victory over Chicopee Comprehensive High School on Oct. 11.

Reminder Publications photo by Chris Maza

By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW – The Lady Spartans just keep on rolling.

With a 3-0 victory over Chicopee Comprehensive High School on Oct. 11, the East Longmeadow girls' soccer team remained undefeated over the first 12 games of its 17-game regular season schedule.

East Longmeadow dominated the play for most of the game and Victoria Dutille scored the game-winning goal on a nice ball from Ashley Horrigan after preventing it from going over the end line in the 23rd minute.

Chicopee Comp put forth a stronger second-half effort and nearly tied the game with 13:50 remaining, but Annie Stack made one of her four saves, punching the ball over the crossbar.

The Spartans then responded with two more goals in the final 10:29. Horrigan bent a corner kick around the front post and through Chicopee Comp keeper Kellie Hiersche for the team's second goal and Danielle White finished off the scoring when she picked up a loose ball in the box after Kylie Casey's initial shot was stopped.

As with so many of their victories, the Spartans were able to dictate the pace of the game, according to East Longmeadow forward Julia Weithofer.

"We had possession for most of the game in their half [of the field] and we were able to play the ball fast to feet," she said.

With the wins mounting, East Longmeadow has steadily climbed the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) rankings for Region I, sitting at No. 11 in the latest poll released on Oct. 9.

The Spartans' incredible run through the regular season has garnered attention not only from local press, but also larger media outlets, including ESPN Boston, which ranked East Longmeadow No. 2 in the state behind Peabody, the top-ranked team in the NSCAA poll.

For the Spartans, communication and support have been the recipe success, according to Weithofer.

"I'd say the key to our success is just being there for each other and supporting each other," she said. "When someone has a bad game, there's always someone there to pick it up for them. We're always there for each other on the field and off the field."

A focus on ball movement during training has also put the Spartans above the curve, Weithofer added.

"In practice, what we work on the most is moving off the ball and knowing where everyone on the field is," she said. "That's what we focus on so when it comes to games, everyone is ready, knowing where everyone is going to be and where to pass it."

As it displayed against Chicopee Comp, East Longmeadow is at its best when taking the ball up the wing and letting the play develop from there.

"When we have two players wide, it stretches the defense and we're able to get the midfield and forwards in and slip it through the hole in the defense. It opens the field up for us," Weithofer said.

The end result could be another run at a state championship. Last season, the Spartans won the Western Massachusetts Division I championship over Minnechaug in penalty kicks, then knocked off Nashoba Regional in the state semifinals.

That was when they ran into Peabody, a powerhouse team that beat them 1-0 for the MIAA Division 1 state title.

This year's final could once again come down to those two schools with Peabody extending its unbeaten streak to 34 games with a win over rival Danvers on Oct. 11 and the Spartans continuing an undefeated run of their own.




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