Walking off the pitch after his team's thrilling 1-0 overtime semifinal victory over Newburyport in the Division II North tournament on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Lynn, Belmont High School Girls' Soccer Head Coach Paul Graham said he wanted Wilmington High School to beat Hamilton Wenham later that night to set up a match against the Marauders.
One reason was his demonstrating solidarity with a Middlesex League compatriot.
"It's great for the league that we have both teams in the final. It shows how strong (we are)," said Graham.
The other, Graham said with a wry smile, is that Wilmington is a known quality.
"We played Wilmington which allows us to prepare for them," said Graham.
He acknowledged his team left Wilmington on Oct. 2 on the wrong end of a 3-1 decision, the last defeat the Marauders' suffered this season. But Graham noted that he did not have the services of a number of players which effected the team's play.
In three playoff games, Belmont (13-3-3) has handedly defeated Arlington – another team that handed the Marauders a defeat – knocked off top ranked and undefeated hosts Amesbury, 2-1, and played a solid game to beat number four- ranked Newburyport.
"We have beaten the best. We are confident in our game," said Graham.
Wilmington (15-3-3), which won the small school division of the Middlesex League and ranked 6th in the playoffs brings significant firepower into Monday's game which will take place at 12:30 p.m. at Manning Field in Lynn.
Forward Alex Bischoff is the Wildcat's go to scorer with double digits in goals. The number 12 scored a brace against Belmont in the regular season match.
Senior midfielder Holly Niemiec – who had the other goal in the Belmont game – is the Wildcat's most polish player and onfield leader – she played for New England Futbol Club Elite which won the U-17 State championship this summer – and is Bischoff's main supplier of through passes which allows the forward to run onto the ball.
Junior defender Kelly Hartsough, who runs on Wilmington’s track team, will track down Belmont strikers with her speed while triggering the counter attack with strong runs up the field.