The expression goes that things went wrong for a team as soon as they stepped off the bus. But for the Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School girls soccer team, things weren’t exactly going great even before the bus arrived.
On the way to their Div. 2 North semifinal tilt on Saturday night, the Generals hit traffic and didn’t set foot onto the field until about 25 minutes remaining before kick off. Things didn’t get much better from there as sixth-seeded Wilmington toppled second-ranked Hamilton-Wenham in a 2-0 decision.
“I said (to the driver) you’ve got to move over, we’re not going to make it. But I don’t think it had an impact on the game,” said head coach Alvi Ibanez. “We understood that at this game on this stage we needed to hang onto the ball, and I felt like we did that. I don’t mind going down a goal, but the way in which we went down a goal is what creates the problem.”
The sequence Ibanez referred to came midway through the first half. Emily Gaucher rifled a shot off the crossbar, nearly giving her team the lead.
Instead, Wilmington took the ball back up the field and the referees called a foul about 40 yards from the Wildcat net, a whistle that the General mentor vehemently disagreed with after the game.
On the ensuing free kick 40 seconds later, Wilmington lofted the ball in front of the Hamilton-Wenham net. It eventually found the foot of Alex Bischoff, who cashed in on her chance and put the Wildcats up 1-0 with 16:09 to go before halftime.
“It was a routine play for us, and he called a foul,” said Ibanez. “That was the momentum shifter for us. When you play a game like this, one goal makes a difference and you saw that.”
Bischoff added a second goal with 11:20 left in the game, working between two Hamilton-Wenham defenders before finding the lower left portion of the net to seal the win.
Following the setback, the Generals season ended with a record of 15-2-2, bouncing back from a disappointing campaign the previous year.
“Not always the best team wins, and I don’t know if we were the better team today but we handled the ball well,” said Ibanez. “But all in all, the effort and energy from preseason to know, it was a pleasure.”