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South Hadley brings home first state Division 3 girls soccer championship

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team Hailey Werenski, left, Lindsay Marjanski, Maddie Doolittle and Bridget Sears celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley goalie Bridget Sears celebrates after shutting out Stoneham to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship Nov. 23 at Foley Stadium in Worcester. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley goalie Bridget Sears stops a shot by Stoneham's Samantha Caldarelli during the State Division 3 girls soccer FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Goalie Bridget Sears hugs Anna Evans as members of the South Hadley girls soccer team celebrate after shutting out Stoneham, 3-0, to win the State Division 3 championship. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Stoneham's Sabrinia Sacco, left, and South Hadley's Maddie Doolittle vie for header during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley defender Emma Sanford clears the ball away from a Stoneham player during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Paige Marjanski is congratulated after scoring against Stoneham during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley’s Lindsay Marjanski, left, controls the ball against Stoneham during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, Saturday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Paige Marjanski controls the ball against Stoneham during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley teammates Anna Evans, left, and goalie Bridget Sears celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team regroup while an injured player is helped off the field during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship against Stoneham at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley’s Paige Marjanski heads the ball against Stoneham during the state Division 3 championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Hailey Werenski vies for the ball with Stoneham's Sabrinia Sacco during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Stoneham's Courtney Ponzo defends against South Hadley's Reese Carey during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Lindsay Marjanski controls the ball against Stoneham during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley’s Sydney Mercier, left, controls the ball against Stoneham. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley goalie Bridget Sears, right, pounces on the ball at the feet of Stoneham's Samantha Caldarelli during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley’s Reese Carey, right, controls the ball in front of Stoneham’s Sabrina Sacco. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Elyse Manzi, left, and Anna Evans, right, defend against Stoneham's Lilly McNulty during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Elyse Manzi battles for the ball with Stoneham's Allison Meade during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley's Teagan Gawron vies for the ball with Stoneham's Lexi Crowley during the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team, coach Rich Marjanski, left, Hailey Werenski, left, Lindsay Marjanski, and Madelyn Doolittle celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer final at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans

  • South Hadley girls soccer coach Rich Marjanski celebrates after the Tigers shut out Stoneham 3-0 to win the State Division 3 girls soccer championship at Foley Stadium in Worcester, on November 23, 2019. FOR THE GAZETTE/Christopher Evans



Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

WORCESTER — Sisters Lindsay and Paige Marjanski attack the game of soccer in different ways.

Paige is taller and initiates play out of the midfield by sending slicing passes down the wing or placing powerful shots on net from distance.

Lindsay uses her speed and fluid footwork to get past center backs and create scoring opportunities.

The duo combined their skillsets, scoring and assisting on each other’s goals in the first half to help lead South Hadley to its first Division 3 girls soccer state championship, 3-0 over Stoneham at Foley Stadium on Saturday.

“They’ve been playing together for a while,” South Hadley coach Rich Marjanski said. “It’s nice to see them continue it on the field. … I’m a proud dad. It’s awesome.”

A little over three years ago, the Tigers had never won a Western Massachusetts championship. Three seasons later, the program has won three straight sectional titles and are now undefeated state champions at 22-0-1.

“People go through their lives without winning a championship. Period,” Rich Marjanski said. “You have to love it and want it. Forget about the individual awards. This is something that will stick with them the rest of their lives.”

The Tigers lost in the 2017 state semifinals, 3-2, to Sutton, then fell in the 2018 state championship, 2-0, to Norwell.

“It’s been like a ladder. It’s so exciting,” Lindsay Marjanski said. “You can tell we are getting better and better. We have kept progressing.”

South Hadley opened the scoring a little over two minutes into Saturday’s game. Paige Marjanski brought the ball down the right wing and got past a Stoneham fullback along the end line. As she ran inward, she slid a pass over to Lindsay Marjanski in the penalty box. She scored with a low shot to put the Tigers on the board.

“I saw I could get by (the defender) and go along the baseline,” Paige Marjanski said. “I saw Lindsay unmarked and knew it was the right time to pass it.”

The Tigers applied pressure on the Spartans with solid defense from their midfield. Paige Marjanski won many 50-50 balls in the first half and initiated attacks down the middle of the field to keep Stoneham (20-4-0) on its toes.

“Paige stepped up her game,” Rich Marjanski said. “She’s one of the best players in western Massachusetts right now. She stepped in, she carries the ball and is so calm with it, and she can finish. I can put her in the back, middle or top. She’s a super player.”

One of Stoneham’s best early chances came with 26:14 to go in the first half. Samantha Caldarelli had a chance to spring her sister, Amanda, with a pass on the break in the middle of the field, but it fell short and was cleared by South Hadley.

South Hadley earned two corner kicks midway through the first half, but both attempts were cleared. The Tigers elected to go with low in-swinging crosses off of corner kicks and free kicks on the wing throughout the game.

“When I watched Stoneham play, they were really good clearing with their head,” Rich Marjanski. “We kept it low and tried to get it on feet. We practiced keeping it on the ground all day Thursday.”

One of the Tigers’ goals was to neutralize the Spartans’ dynamic attacking duo of Samantha and Amanda Caldarelli.

Tigers center backs Anna Evans and Amy Hampson weren’t excessively asked to step up in the first half, but when the two needed to make a block or a timely tackle, they did their part.

“This whole tournament (Anna and Amy) were great,” Rich Marjanski said. “Especially after winning Western Mass., (Holy Name) had a wicked striker (Hailey Houston) on their team. … These girls are shutting down Division I players. It’s great to watch. They love the challenge.”

With 3:37 to go in the half, Lindsay Marjanski got the ball along the end line on the left wing and slipped the ball into the box. Paige Marjanski ran in and fired a shot from the top of the box inside the right post to double the Tigers’ lead.

The assist from Lindsay Marjanski to her sister gave the senior her 100th career point.

“I couldn’t have asked for it any other way,” Lindsay Marjanski said.

The Spartans had one of their best scoring opportunities of the game with 38:03 to go in the second half. Marie Hardiman weaved through the Tigers defense and got right in front of the goal. She sent a hard shot on, but South Hadley goalkeeper Bridget Sears made the stop.

Two minutes later, Sears came off her line and leaped into the air to intercept a Stoneham cross from the right wing.

Sears, Evans and Hampson passed the ball to each other throughout the game to keep the ball away from pressing Spartan forwards.

“At halftime we talked about how key it is for the defense to play the ball back to Bridget to just relieve pressure and trust that she is going to do something good with the ball,” Rich Marjanski said. “That was huge.”

The Tigers almost added to their lead at several points midway through the first half with shots from Teagan Gawron, Lindsay Marjanski and Sydney Mercier, but their attempts missed the mark.

With 9:28 to go in regulation, Hailey Werenski gave the Tigers the insurance goal they craved.

Werenski settled the ball on the right wing around 35 yards away from goal. She sent in a curling, left-footed shot over the head of Stoneham goalkeeper Allyson Porter and inside the far post to put the game out of reach.

“I did not expect it to go in,” Werenski said. “It was a shock, but that feeling ripped through our entire team and brought us to the next level.”

The final whistle brought many emotions to the forefront for South Hadley players.

“I think my heart stopped,” Werenski said. “I was so happy to be in this opportunity, but in the other aspect of it, I’m never going to play alongside these girls (again), some of them I’ve played with for 10 years. It was kind of like a roller coaster.

With Lindsay Marjanski graduating, Paige Marjanski is excited to play with her younger sister Lauren, who will be a freshman next season.

“Hopefully Lauren and I can pick up right where we left off,” Paige Marjanski said.