NORTH ANDOVER — Leah Chittick took the pass near midfield, surged towards the net and, just as she was sent flying to the ground by a hard shoulder, buried what proved to be the biggest goal of her career.
“That goal was so emotional,” said Chittick. “It was just the confidence boost we needed. Scoring the goal, getting knocked down. It was crazy.”
With the game tied midway through the second half, Chittick’s highlight-reel score sent North Andover High on a six-goal run, and the top-seeded Scarlet Knights were unstoppable from there, locking down a 17-12 victory over No. 3 Winchester to take home the Division 1 North title.
“We wanted this so bad and it is just amazing to be North champs,” said co-captain Erin Kelley. “We are on Cloud 9 right now. After last year, we were not going to lose this game. It is amazing.”
North Andover now advances to Monday’s Division 1 state semifinal at Babson (time TBA) against the winner of today’s South championship matchup between Notre Dame of Hingham and unbeaten Westwood.
“We have been waiting a long time for this,” said co-captain Julie Gallant. “We have worked so hard to get here, and we knew we had to step up if we were going to earn that trophy. So to celebrate with it was just so special.”
The emotions erupted at the end of the game, as the Scarlet Knights mugged goalie Lauren Hiller, then were presented with the trophy. Each one of the players planted a kiss on the trophy.
It was quite a change from a season ago, when North Andover fell to Westford in the North Final.
“The thought of actually kissing the trophy is crazy,” said sophomore Abbie Karalis. “Last year was so tough, and so from Day 1 our goal was to win the North title. We were going to give it all we could.”