MILFORD, Mass – The Milford Hawks have played better than a two-win team this season. On a cold night, in front of their home fans, the Hawks fed off an emotional Senior Night ceremony to come from behind and beat Sharon 3-2.
The Hawks (3-10-2) have been decimated by injuries this season, including star midfielder Kelsey Pratt and fellow captain Megan Driscoll, who have each missed the entire campaign, and the younger players made sure to honor the departing seniors with a victory.
Trailing 2-1 midway through the second half, senior Maddie Parsons capped her final home game with an equalizing goal. Parsons spun off her defender and gave Sharon goalie Lily Arbabanel no chance with a fierce shot into the bottom corner.
Just six minutes later, the crowd was on its feet again.
Sophomore Julia Masionis received a pass from classmate Brittney Kelly on the edge of the Eagles’ box and showed great strength to hold off her defender before firing home the go ahead score. Once again, Arbabanel was given no chance as the shot nestled into the side-netting.
Milford coach Kristin Strazzulla was finally able to create a line-up without pulling from the JV squad and the team responded with a solid performance, particularly in the second half, but the injured seniors were always on the minds of the players.
“After they scored, they’re pointing to their upperclassmen – I didn’t have to do much as a coach tonight. All the motivation came from within the girls.”
It was the visitors that opened the scoring. Captain Samantha Alves scored a free kick from a full 30 yards out that just eluded the fingertips of Milford keeper Carolyn Chaplin.
The Hawks grew into the game as the first half wore on and five minutes from halftime sophomore Kaley Pratt tied the game with a near post header off a Kathryn Brown corner.
The Eagles regained the lead, against the run of play, 12 minutes after the break. Pratt worked space on the edge of the Sharon box and had a left-footed strike bounce back off the post. Mere seconds later, a long ball forward found Sharon striker Lesley Davis off to the races and she calmly slotted home to make it 2-1.
As much as injuries have been the story for Milford this season, Sharon has had its own issues recently. Head coach John Lavien struggled to put together a bench for this game, which was not helped by Alves picking up a leg injury in the first half.
“We’re at the end of the season, I had four kids not playing today and my star player gets knocked out in the first 10 minutes of the game. They fought valiantly, but I just didn’t have a bench.”
Sharon has already clinched a playoff appearance this season. This is the first time that the Eagles have made it to the playoffs in back-to-back years in at least 15 years (there is some debate over when Sharon had been to the playoffs before last season).
Milford is not concerned with playoff appearances this season, but Lavien insists this is a team to watch in 2013.
“They’re a lot better than their record shows. They have been riddled by injuries. This is one of those teams, Milford, that next season, when they have all their players back, will be right there in the league.”
Sharon are looking to improve on last year’s record, but in order to do that will have to find a way to beat either Canton or Oliver Ames in its next two games, before wrapping up the regular season with Bishop Connolly.
Milford will go on the road for the final three games, beginning with Foxboro on Friday, but the Hawks gave their seniors one last night to shine in front of the home fans.
“The tears started flowing, but it was worth every second to them,” said Strazzulla. “They miss them, but they’ve been there every step of the way and they earned it.”