Mills moves on to quarters
BURLINGTON — No. 1 seed Lewis Mills (17-0) showed its stuff Wednesday night in a 6-0 secondround Class M soccer win over No. 16 Northwestern Wednesday night at Burlington’s Nassahegan Field.
The Highlanders (10-6-2) came up big in a 2-1 win over No. 17 Woodland Monday afternoon, but, in their third match with the fellow-Berkshire League Spartans, they knew what to expect.
The Mills girls swept through the BL with 15 shutouts in 16 regularseason wins, with a 101-2goal goodbye tour before moving to the CCC next year..
Nevertheless, Northwestern earned the Spartans’ respect in their view of the Highlanders game on Monday while sitting out a first-round bye, and in their first-half performance Wednesday.
“We got to watch our fellow-BL team battle Woodland and we weren’t taking them for granted,” said Mills coach Jared Sheikh. “The first state tournament game is always a challenge. You saw that in the up-and-down play at the beginning of this game.”
Despite Northwestern’s stiff resistance, the Highlanders faced a team skilled at every position as they raced up and down the field.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said captain and central defender Hannah Anderson, one of just three senior starters alongside five sophomores
and two freshmen.
Talented underclassmen turn into a liability for some teams, but not Mills, where every player has come through one of the best feeder programs in the state as well as premiere teams.
“I felt really comfortable coming in,” said freshman striker Madison Hallet, after scoring two goals Wednesday along with goals by freshman Alexa Calabrese, sophomores Victoria Fleming and Grace Buchanan and senior Grace Kryzanski.
Still, the Highlander defense gave as good as they got for much of the first half. The first two Spartan goals came off corner kicks in the eighth and 24th minutes. Buchanan tapped the first one back to Calabrese in a scramble after the kick by Abby Mills. Fleming popped the second one in off another Mills corner.
The third came just a minute later on a pure shot off the 18 by Hallet.
Down 3-0, the Highlanders penetrated with dangerous bouncers through the Mills box while Northwestern keeper Jena Solak limited the damage with a diving save on a fourth would-be Spartan goal.
“It’s seems strange to say when we’re behind 3-0, but I think we played really well,” said Highlander coach Jared Stotler at the half.
But Mills owned most of the second half.
“We got a little tired and ran out of gas,” Stotler said.
That left Buchanan open for a goal from the top of the penalty box in the sixth minute; Kryzanski from 20 yards in the 13th; and Hallet, working past a Northwestern defender, for the final score in the 35th.
“We raised our level,” said Sheikh.
The Spartans host No. 9 Ellington in the quarterfinals Friday night, 5 p.m., at Nassahegan. Ellington fell to Mills in last year’s second round on the Spartans’ way to their second straight semifinal.