Gina Manzi has been versatile all year for the Pirates.
Text and photos by Steev Riccardo. More photos follow.
OXFORD – A lot has changed in the performance and especially the mindset of the Oxford High School Pirates girl’s soccer team these days.
Coming off a series of losing seasons, the team suddenly has spark and “heart,” and even though they were beaten by the undefeated Auburn Rockets 5-3 last Thursday, it many ways it was a win.
A year ago when the two teams met, the Rockets shut out the Pirates 6-0. Last Thursday they were a goal post and a couple of breaks away from beating the undefeated Central Mass super power.
The Pirates were led by Central Mass leading scorer senior co-captain Emily Dawidczyk, who scored all three goals, but it was hardly a one- girl performance, with many players stepping up and contributing heavily.
The defensive backline of seniors Gina Manzi, Blair Reilly, and Dominique Lesieur all played exceptionally well, as did sophomore goalie Bethany Keefe, who despite giving up five goals held her own against the talented Rockets team.
Dawidczyk was upbeat afterwards, despite the loss. “I feel good about our team, just thinking about last year at the end of the first half when we played them it was like 6-0. This is a huge deal, to even be tied with them at one point is mind blowing”.
“We haven’t beaten them in all my years here,” said Dawidczyk. “I think the last time Oxford beat Auburn in soccer was around 2006.”
Gina Manzi, who has had an all-star caliber season, blasted a shot off the top goal post late, which looked like a sure goal that would have tied the game at four and there was at least one offside on the Rockets that wasn’t called that could have prevented a breakaway goal.
“A couple of their goals seemed like they may have been offside at least one, it happens though, we still played well and it’s like a win in our books,” said Dawidczyk.
Dawidczyk, who now has a Central Mass league leading 27 goals, had much praise for Manzi afterwards. “She never says anything about where the coach puts her, she will play anywhere and she is so versatile. She takes shots, she defends, she can switch gears quickly she is an experienced player she knows what she is doing.”
The senior co-captain also liked what she saw from her other teammates, including Reilly, who played solid defense throughout. “Blair works hard at everything she ever does in school in whatever she does. She works hard in practice always trying to better herself and it’s really starting to show on the field.”
“You can see the improvement,” said Reilly. “I think our chances of being a playoff team are much better than last year.”
“The thing is now that we want it, we have heart on this team and we found it and we are at a point now where we are not going to give up,” added co-captain Lesieur. “We don’t care what the score is we are behind each other and we are not going to give up until the end.”
Head Coach Dung Nguyen knows that Manzi’s shot could have changed the outcome, but regardless, was pleased afterwards with his team’s play. “That was a great shot, she doesn’t usually play up top, but I needed somebody up there with a big foot, too bad it hit the crossbar and came back out. It would have been beautiful if it would have gone in.”
“We always play better against better teams, they always step up and
I told the girls we can compete with any team in the league. We didn’t play well in Millbury and Sutton, but I feel we can keep compete with anyone.”
The 4-6-1 Pirates, who are much better than their record indicates, will have a host of key matches coming up, including Leicester on Thursday, October 11, and a rescheduled game against Northbridge on Wednesday, October 17.
Pirates Senior co-captain Dominique Lesieur
- Sunday, 07 October 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports