By Josh Levine
Lowell High School took 13 shots each half but only managed to squeeze one in the goal in a 1-0 victory over Lincoln High School in the AAA semifinals on Tuesday at Boxer Stadium.
Lowell’s Hannah Matranga scored the only goal in the 24th minute. Shira Kogan crossed the ball over the middle to Matranga who kicked it past Lincoln goalkeeper Marianna Ramirez.
As the Rueda Division’s top seed entering the playoffs, the Cardinals were initially slotted to play O’Connell on Wednesday but they had to forfeit three of their games due to an ineligible player and were dropped to the number two seed. The result was that Lowell played Lincoln Tuesday and Washington will play O’Connell today in the other semifinal match.
Alejandra Sanchez, a starting forward for the Cardinals, was suspended indefinitely by Lowell for undisclosed reasons. She was present at the game, but not in uniform.
“With Alejandra out, we had to make some last-minute changes,” said Cardinals interim Head Coach Marcos Estebez. “We moved Zoe [Charter-Kuo] up from midfield to forward and someone had to fill in her spot. Everything was out of sync.”
The Mustangs only took two shots the game and both came late in the second half. The Cardinals played without goalkeeper Rachel Baskin, who arrived late in the game after taking AP tests. Mara Woods-Robinson started in her place.
“I told the team to come out and set the tone early,” said Mustangs Head Coach David McPherson. “It was there too. We had a high level of intensity, and we kept up with them. Our defense was really the key. [They] all played one hell of a game.”
Lowell now awaits the winner of Washington and O’Connell, who play today at Boxer Stadium. The winners face off in the championship on Saturday.
“We had a chance to get even with Lowell,” said McPherson, referring to their 5-0 loss to Lowell earlier in the season. “They stepped up to the challenge. I told them to not be angry, but to get even. It was intense and a good match and a great season.”