By Christopher Smith
---- — WELLESLEY — Just minutes after North Andover loss in the state semifinals yesterday, junior attacker Leah Chittick was using the outcome as motivation for next year.
“We’re going to go all the way next season, all the way to states for (the) championship and we’re going to win it and we’re going to redeem ourselves of this,” Chittick said.
North Andover fell 14-4 to undefeated South champion Westwood in the EMass. finals last night at Babson College.
Westwood dominated from start to finish, holding North Andover off the scoreboard for the entire first half. It was a loss that would discourage most, but Chittick (three goals) and her Scarlet Knight teammates have great reason to use the defeat to fuel them for next year.
After all, North Andover has the majority of its roster returning next spring, including Chittck, who earned MVP honors in the Merrimack Valley Conference, as well as sophomore Lauren Hiller, the MVC Division 1 Goalie of the Year and Emma Johns, the conference’s Division 1 Defensive Player of the Year.
“The core coming back is really promising,” Chittick said. “We have a lot of underclassmen who can make amends next season.”
North Andover first-year coach Meredith Prior seems to be thinking along the same lines as Chittick.
“We can come back next year and do it,” Prior said.
Westwood’s defense was overwhelming in front of goalie Meghan Raskin who turned away five shots.
“They doubled really well and there was really high-pressure defense and that’s what killed us,” Chittick said.
North Andover finished at 22-2-1. Its only losses came against Westwood and Notre Dame of Hingham who Westwood beat 11-9 in the Division 1 South championship game. The Scarlet Knights’ tie was against Westford.
“I just love my team,” Chittick said. “We play so well together and we’ve grown as a team throughout this season. We worked (hard).”
Hiller made 12 saves.
“Lauren Hiller played well,” Prior said. “We had some very, very big defensive stops. And we held them in the first half to five goals. And I kept harping on that at halftime that, ‘We held them to five goals. They’re an offensive powerhouse.’ In the last eight minutes, yeah, there was about four or five goals. But I think that only comes naturally when you’re kind of at the point that we were.”
Prior said her first year as head coach was amazing.
“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.
Westwood 14, North Andover 4
Division 1 Semifinals
Goals: NA — Leah Chittick 3, Abbie Karalis; W — Ela Hazar 5, Kim Egizi 2, Kasey Keane, Brooke Troy 4, Colleen Burke 2
Assists: NA — Emily Sauls; W — Hazar 3, Egizi 4, Haley Connaughton
Saves: NA — Lauren Hiller 2; W — Meghan Raskin 5
Westwood (23-0): 5 9 — 14
North Andover (22-2-1): 0 4 — 4