NHIAA girls’ soccer: No. 3 Bishop Brady’s season reaches end in 3-2 loss to No. 2 Fall Mountain in D-III semifinals

  • Fall Mountain celebrates its Division III semifinal win after the final whistle as Bishop Brady players walk off the field. RICHARD MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Brady’s Danni DesRuisseaux celebrates her second goal with teammate Emily Senko at Laconia High School on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. RICHARD MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Brady’s Danni DesRuisseaux dribbles past Fall Mountain’s Ellen Beck. DesRuisseaux scored her second goal of the night to tie the game, 2-2, in the Division III semifinals at Laconia High School on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Fall Mountain won, 3-2. RICHARD MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 01, 2017

LACONIA – They came back from a goal down in the first half. They came back again in the second half. They gave the defending champs a battle and a scare.

After finishing with just five wins last year, the Bishop Brady girls’ soccer team may have surprised some by earning the third seed this season and then reaching Tuesday’s Division III semifinals. But no one who followed the Green Giants (14-3-1) was surprised by the effort they showed in their 3-2 loss to No. 2 Fall Mountain (16-2-0).

“These girls all year, from Aug. 20 to Oct. 31, came to every practice, came to every game ready to battle, ready to fight,” Brady Coach Andrew Mattarazzo said. “Nothing was easy for us this year. Nobody expected us to be here and we did something that a lot of people probably didn’t think we could.”

The signature win of the Giants regular season came on Oct. 11, a 2-1 win at Fall Mountain. It was the only game the defending champs lost at home all year. After the loss, the Wildcats moved Maddie Parrott from center back to forward, and that move paid big dividends on Tuesday as Parrott scored two goals, including the game-winner with 5:19 left on the clock.

“It was a different game today because they moved (Parrott) out of the back and today she was the difference maker,” Mattarazzo said. “I give her props.”

The Wildcats opened the scoring early, just six minutes into the game, but it was a goal that you could see coming. Parrott found space for two shots inside the 18-yard box in the game’s first five minutes, so it was no surprise that when she found a third shot it turned into a goal.

MaryBeth Groton started the play with a slick pass to Ali Monty at the top of the 18. The collapsing Brady defense got the ball away from Monty, but that left Parrott open. She was the first to the loose ball and sent a quick shot inside the near post to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Brady answered in the 22nd minute after center back Sarah Doherty stepped smartly to the ball to stop a Fall Mountain attack. The Giants quickly went the other way with a long ball for Danielle DesRuisseaux, their leading scoring. Fall Mountain sweeper Zoe Utton, DesRuisseaux and the ball all arrived at the same point of the field at the same time, but in a blink DesRuisseaux and the ball were headed toward the Wildcats goal while Utton was left behind.

DesRuisseaux carried for 20 yards, using her speed to stay a half step ahead of the chasing defenders. She angled to the left to get the ball on her favored left foot and blasted a shot to the far side netting, leaving Fall Mountain keeper Allie Stoddart (three saves) no chance and knotting the score at 1-1 with 18:54 left in the half.

The score stayed that way until halftime, and that was just fine with the Giants.

“We were felling pretty good at half. We went down early, but then we fought back,” Mattarazzo said. “The biggest thing I told the girls at halftime was to play the way we played all year. We got 14 wins playing that way, so there was no need to change now.”

Brady was forced to play catch-up for most of the second half when the Wildcats scored just 1:38 after halftime. The scoring play started on a corner kick that Brady couldn’t clear. The ball wound up at the far post and Monty forced it in, almost like a hockey player hammering at a loose puck, to give her team a 2-1 lead.

The goal was like blood in the water for the Wildcats, who buzzed hungrily to get another. The Brady defense was under tons of pressure, but the Giants withstood it all. Doherty and Abigail Santis threw themselves in front of shots and rushes, and keeper Mackenzie Wetherill (nine saves) stopped everything else.

“Mackenzie played well – no, Mackenzie played awesome,” Mattarazzo said. “And she has played awesome all year for me, for her team, for her teammates.”

All that defending kept the Giants within striking distance, and with just 10:43 left on the clock they struck. Olivia Crainich, Brady’s star midfielder, kicked a pretty ball through four Fall Mountain defenders to send DesRuisseaux into space. She ran onto the ball, took just the right touch and then calmly slotted it inside the right post to make it 2-2.

The game opened up after that, and it was the Wildcats who took advantage of the space. Zoey Luopa got free down the left side, fed a ball to Parrott running down the middle and the converted defender didn’t miss, poking a shot inside the right post with 5:19 on the clock.

“We were just hoping for anything, even if it wasn’t in our game plan,” Parrott said. “Zoey saw me and passed it through their defense into the middle and I was just like, ‘You have to make this one count.’ ”

She did, but Parrott was still nervous for those final five minutes.

“I thought they could still tie it up, for sure,” Parrott said. “So for those last five minutes I made sure to stay back and help out my defense.”

The Giants pushed the ball into the Wildcats end for most of those last moments, and they had a corner kick and a free kick where they sent everyone into the box, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.

“I told the girls not to hang their heads,” Mattarazzo said. “The Bishop Brady girls’ soccer program did something that it’s never done before, making it to the semifinals, making it to the final four. We had 14 wins this year and the senior class, their first three years combined they got that many. So it was definitely a great season.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341, tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)