Girls’ soccer defeat Westborough in Pod 8 championships, dominate season


Annabella Ferraiuolo

Senior Lola Mahoney eyes the ball, preparing to get it as soon it lands. The girls became Pod 8 champions, defeating Westborough with a score of 1-0.

Jessie Lambert and Ava Aymie

Despite COVID-19 regulations, the girls’ soccer team won the Pod 8 championships and finished the season with a 7-1-2 record. 

The team ended the unique season with a 1-0 win over Westborough on Nov. 12 after beating Shrewsbury 4-2 in their first playoff game. 

New head coach John Clifford took over after being involved in the program for nine years, six of those as an assistant for former head coach Scott Taggart. Clifford believes much of the team dynamic was created by Taggart.

“In the season, I did not feel much of a difference being a head coach,” Clifford said. “I would credit Coach T for creating a really collaborative and inclusive environment these past years.” 

While the season was a major team effort, Clifford said junior Caroline Kelly was a contributing factor to the team’s accomplishments this year. 

“Caroline Kelly had a great year, leading the team in goals and assists, and a two-time ‘United Soccer Coaches Massachusetts Girls Player of the Week,’ so she was definitely a huge contributor to the team this year,” Clifford said. 

Clifford also expressed his gratitude to his captains, seniors Morgan Potter, Ashley Rex and Raiya Sehgal. 

“I was really proud of the captains for providing strong leadership and the continuity of our culture in the most challenging environment we could imagine,” Clifford said. “They really lead their teammates on the field and off.”

Alongside Kelly and the captains, many players made impacts on offense and defense.

“[Sophomore] Mia Lochhead stood out to me as a new player who was able to mesh well with the defense and be a leader back there,” Potter said.

“[Junior] Lulu Alcock and [senior] Kyla Pelham were two players that made us dangerous on free kicks which was a huge addition to the team,” Sehgal said. 

Although the team proved to be ultimately successful in their playoff games, junior Serena Mihalek felt the team struggled most at the start.

“We struggled a little bit at the beginning of a few games, but I would say our half-time talks actually really helped in getting the team hyped up and we would usually end up getting it together quickly,” Mihalek said. “So even if we got a bad start we are still able to pull it together by the end of games.” 

In addition, Sehgal considers the COVID-19 regulations as their main hardship of the season.

“Adapting to the new rules made it harder to not play the same way we have been playing our whole lives,” Sehgal said. “There was definitely a learning curve that came with that.”

Clifford saw these restrictions as challenges the girls were able to overcome and still make the best out of the season.

“I was surprised in the end that the restrictions didn’t affect us from an experience standpoint,” Clifford said. “After some adjustments, what I saw was the usual: the players having all the camaraderie, all the fun and all the love for each other on a day-to-day basis.” 

As it was the captains’ last year playing soccer at Algonquin, they had a few words of advice for the future team. 

“Don’t take for granted team bonding moments,” Potter said. 

“Play each game like it’s your last,” Sehgal said. 

“Enjoy it,” Rex said.