To finish a season perfect, a team must overcome the imperfections in its play throughout the season.
Every time the Worcester Prep girls soccer team has been tested, it has come up with an answer, cruising undefeated to capture the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference regular season title.
After a win in the semifinals, one team stood in its way on Friday in Berlin.
That was Sts. Peter and Paul, who had won the previous five ESIAC Tournament Titles.
Although they didn’t play perfect, a late first-half goal and three within four minutes of each other at the start of the second half helped the Mallards to a 4-0 win over their rival.
“One goal allowed to 61 scored by us — that is a perfect season,” Prep head coach Carol Hartnett said.
Freshman Delaney Abercrombie was a threat down the right side of the field throughout the entire game.
She finished with a goal and an assist on the day and helped open the scoring with a cross that bounced off the Sabres’ goalkeeper’s hand and right to striker Julia D’Antonio.
The senior didn’t miss the wide open net, and Prep led with 2:59 left in the half.
The goal really relaxed the Mallards.
“Whenever we get our first goal in any game, it definitely pumps us up and gets us going,” D’Antonio said. “It got us more comfortable. They definitely came out for this game (playing) harder and more physical.”
Prep had defeated Sts. Peter and Paul 2-0 and 7-0 during the season, but in a conference championship game anything can happen.
But the goal right before half was all the Mallards needed.
“It was huge,” Hartnett said. “We talked about it, we weren’t playing our game. Last time we played them, first half, it was 0-0. It’s just one of those things. We just had to cleanup and start playing our game.”
Hartnett said they were going to press in the second half, and the Sabres couldn’t handle it.
A bouncing ball fell to D’Antonio 2:36 into the second half and she fired it home again.
“The second goal, I thought they called a penalty, but no one stopped so I just went up and kicked it anyway,” she said.
Just 2:06 later, Abercrombie sped down the right side and swung her left foot to put it past the keeper.
Another 2:16 passed by and the Mallards had found the net again. This time it was Karlie Southcomb on the breakaway.
In a matter of moments, Prep led 4-0 and there was no coming back.
The Sabres got off eight shots in the first half, but only managed two in the second.
Another freshman, goalkeeper Gracie Gardner finished with eight saves.
The biggest on a penalty kick with 28:28 remaining.
Riley Detar stepped up to take the kick, going low and to the right, but Gardner had a beat on it and cleanly fell to the ground to make the stop.
The Sabres hardly saw the net the rest of the game.
Hartnett credited the team on their attitude and commitment throughout the season.
She said she’s never had a team with no drama before.
It was extra special for D’Antonio. The senior’s sister helped Prep win its late conference tournament title six years ago.
“It is surreal because we’ve never done that,” D’Antonio said. “My sister is four years older than me and she won the championship when she was a sophomore. It’s been six years. Sts. Peter and Paul, if they won today, it would have been their sixth championship win.
“It was awesome to break that.”