Div. 4 girls soccer: Sutton’s takes home championship following 2-1 win over South Hadley (PHOTOS)
|Published: 11-19-2023 3:22 PM
LEOMINSTER – The No. 1 South Hadley girls soccer team’s dream run came to a close in the MIAA Div. 4 state championship game against No. 2 Sutton, as the Tigers fell to the Suzies, 2-1, at Doyle Field on Saturday morning.
Suzies captain Addy Jerome netted the game-winning goal off an assist from Lea Lamoreaux with just over 12 minutes left in regulation.
Sutton came into the game having won back-to-back champions in Div. 5. Even after moving up one division, the Suzies still found a way to bring home another state title. South Hadley put its best effort forward on Saturday, but fell just shy of a storybook ending. Either way, the Tigers had plenty to celebrate considering all they accomplished in 2023.
“The girls had a great season. They played great today, left it all on the field,” South Hadley head coach Rich Marjanski said. “We talked about it at halftime, it was just gonna take one shot either way. Obviously we didn’t come out on the right side of the win, but we had a great season all around.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the 10th minute of the game following a goal from Sutton’s Anna Joseph and being outplayed for the first 15 minutes of the first half, South Hadley turned it around to close out the frame. Eight minutes following Joseph’s goal, the Tigers re-captured momentum off the foot of Allie Fleury.
Lauren Marjanski sent a perfect through ball to Fleury, who found herself all alone in the box. She took a quick touch to settle it before blasting a shot by the Sutton keeper to tie the game at one.
A few more South Hadley scoring chances were squandered, and the game went into halftime 1-1.
The Suzies’ high-powered offense took over from there and they seized possession of the ball for the majority of the second 40 minutes – which led to Jerome’s game-winner. Tigers keeper Drew Alley did everything she could to keep the game within reach, making a plethora of acrobatic saves and putting her body on the line for her team.
“We had our chance in the first half to get a couple, we definitely played more defensive in the second half,” Rich Marjanski said. “But it was a great run. They had some great wins, great memories, and that’s what it’s all about – having the opportunity to be here.”
Jerome and sophomore Ava Magnuson were Marjanski’s biggest concerns coming in, and they both proved to be as good as advertised. While Magnuson didn’t score, she drew so much attention from the Tigers defense, and that allowed Jerome and others to find space in threatening areas.
“We definitely wanted to mark their two forwards and have help behind them,” Rich Marjanski said. “That was the message going in, and we moved our opposite outside back to the middle to help as well. They were a good team, not much else there is to say.”
This South Hadley senior class will go down as one of the most talented and impactful groups in program history. Drew Alley, Lauren Marjanski, Gianna Roy, Madelyn McArdle, Rachel Yabra, Kaleigh Houle, and Gracie Deren each played a role in the Tigers’ state tournament run.
One of those relationships was extra special for Rich Marjanski, and that is his daughter, Lauren. Rich has coached for seven seasons at South Hadley and has had the pleasure of coaching his three daughters – Lindsay, Paige, and Lauren – along the way. Lauren is the last of this generation of Marjanskis to come through the program.
Lauren leaves behind 150 total points (112 goals, 38 assists) and lifetime memories Rich won’t soon forget.
“It’s great; all three of them gave me excellent effort, Lauren especially,” Rich Marjanski said. “She’s the last of the girls, so just to be a part of it with them, and share the experience – the tournaments, the wins, the state championship, the state finals, it’s surreal. It’s awesome.”
“It was a lot of fun, definitely, and it’s sad that it’s over,” Lauren Marjanski added, referring to having her father as her coach for four years. “But it was a good dynamic, and it was fun while it lasted.”
Despite not coming away with the result they wanted, the returning players coming back in 2024 have so much to learn from. South Hadley relied on several underclassmen to play big minutes not only Saturday, but throughout the entire regular season.
The experience they’ve gained combined with a full offseason to mature and grow as players will prove valuable come next year.
“That’s kind of what we do at South Hadley,” Rich Marjanski said. “We have such good leaders in our senior class, and we have a lot of youth on this team. It’s a great learning experience for the girls. I think they’re gonna remember this for the rest of their lives. Just getting here is half the battle. It’s 26 games this year that they got to play with each other. It’s gonna be hard when I don’t see them tomorrow at practice.”
And although the seniors can’t compete for another high school championship, best believe they’ll be back next fall to support the next group with state title aspirations.
“Hopefully they come back next year and win it all for us,” Lauren Marjanski said. “I’m looking forward to keeping up with them and watching them next year.”