By John Anderson
When the Rockets faced the Wolverines on October 19th, Auburn prevailed, 3-1, but things are always different in the playoffs. #6 Leicester beat #11 Bromfield, 3-1, and #3 Oakmont in PK’s, 3-2, while #7 Auburn defeated # 10 Gardner, 5-0, and #2 Grafton 4-1 in PK’s. Tonight, these teams will face off again in the Central D3 Semi-Final at 5:00pm in Foley Stadium.
Monday’s game against Grafton was interesting for several reasons including the fact that it was played at 2:30pm after daylight savings time ended on a field without lights. The light during the regular game was perfectly fine, but this match ended 0-0 as did two 10-minute overtime periods. Late sunset would be the appropriate term for the second overtime, but during the shoot out it was officially dusk. Many thought the game should be moved to the lit field next door, but nobody made the change.
The second reason is the history between Auburn and Grafton in girls soccer. They played each other twice this fall, and Auburn lost both contests 1-0. Grafton is a tough team, and they came onto the field with a ton of confidence this time.
The third reason is Grafton goalie Madison Murphy. She is skilled, and she has a reputation for letting the opposition know it. She is also aggressive. Auburn coaches witnessed contact with an Auburn player after the play was over, the ball was downfield, and the referees’ eyes were turned. Coach Midura twice spoke with the refs including calling a time out for the second conversation. No more fouls occurred, but Auburn’s Jordyn Abasciano, for one, was feeling the pain of contact.
When the game progressed to a shoot out, another fact became apparent: Murphy has difficulty stopping a PK, at least on Monday. Auburn keeper Danielle Schmeling had a fantastic game and was largely responsible for shutting out the Indians, but Midura chose Colleen Cutting to protect the net during the shoot out.
All of Murphy’s shoot out reactions are shown in today’s slide show, but Cutting had the first shot and she nailed it. Megan Gurlitz also had a terrific game in defense, and she had the second attempt. Murphy didn’t even react to the high and right kick. Jianna Baroni kicked low and left, and Murphy couldn’t reach the ball.
Finally, and with Auburn up 3-1, Jordyn Abasciano stepped up to the marker. At this point, Grafton had only landed one kick while two missed the net. The best they could hope for was 2 stops and 2 good kicks to tie it up and force a second series of kicks. By then, the spectators might have been asked to turn on their automobile headlights so there would be some light on the turf. When Abasciano drilled a shot to the right, Murphy barely reacted, and the game was over.
Readers can decide if this was a bit of karma, but it sure felt that way on Monday. After the game, Midura told his team, “We’re not walking out with a trophy. It’s one game at a time.”
At least there is another game, and it’s only hours away.