The Wildcats beat Covenant Christian Academy, 2-1, Thursday to claim their first-ever league tournament title.
By Matt Cook
The Patriot Ledger
QUINCY – It was the biggest thing that’s ever happened to Woodward School.
Those were the words of soccer coach Bob Giordano on Thursday after his team defeated Covenant Christian Academy, 2-1, in the Girls Independent League tournament championship game.
It was the first tournament title in the program’s history, and it came fresh off the Wildcats’ first-ever undefeated regular season (9-0-2).
So it certainly wasn’t hyperbole.
“We’ve always been a basketball or softball kind of power,” said Giordano. “These last couple of years, we’ve only lost one regular-season game. It was their first time going to a championship game, and they held it together.”
Freshmen Dana Galloway (Weymouth) and Sara Cole (Quincy) provided two first-half goals that proved to be the difference. Cole’s 14 goals set a record for the most by a freshman in Woodward history.
“We started together in August, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been coaching at Woodward for 20 years, and they’re just a great group,” said Giordano. “There’s never been one problem. It’s always about the team. It’s not about one individual person.”
The Wildcats closed out the year with a record of 11-0-2. They outscored opponents, 59-9, and surrendered just three goals over the final eight games.
Much of that credit has to be given to junior goalkeeper Jasmine Bean (Quincy), who was a backup last year and has since been the go-to netminder.
“I felt like we had everything to lose because we were going undefeated,” said Bean. “And (Covenant Christian) came here fighting for everything. We had a disadvantage, but we also had an advantage because we had beaten them twice.”
As a junior, Bean said she’s thrilled to get another year with the program.
“I’m very happy to have another season,” she said. “The seniors now, they did really well, and I’m glad they went out with a bang.”
Among those seniors is Marissa Albanese (Milton), who set a new single-season scoring record for the program with 19 goals during the regular season.
“It’s definitely great,” she said of the win. “I’ve been here since freshmen year and we’ve always been so close to (winning it all), but this time we really came together.”
She also acknowledged how the team was able to adapt with a change in personnel.
“Coming into this year, we lost a lot of seniors,” said Albanese. “So we had a lot of miscellaneous people coming from different skill levels and we definitely came together to pull through and win.”
Fellow senior captain Molli Morris (Norwell) said that she knew the team had to step it up after having fallen short in each of the last two years.
“Everyone’s personality is so strong on the team,” she said. “When we first came on in August, I barely knew some of the people. It was about us all coming together and making this possible.”
Chidera Onwunaka (Quincy), also a senior captain, said, “playing together as a team and making history together is really important to us, and it means a lot.”
Did Woodward feel any pressure after rolling through the regular season?
“Yeah, obviously,” said Morris. “Going through the tournament, we were all so nervous today.
“But we did it.”