Photography by David Creed
Nantucket junior Claire Misurelli had her head in the game Thursday afternoon, and her heads-up defense along with sophomore Adney Brannigan’s three goals helped lead Nantucket to a 4-3 win over the St. John Paul II Lions Thursday afternoon.
The Whalers are now 3-1 this season after a 2-13-3 season last year, which included a pair of losses to SJP (2-0 and 2-1). Whaler head coach Doug LeBrecht said he believes this was his team’s best performance of the season.
Emery Bouchard had Nantucket’s other goal. It was her second of the season.
The Lions got off to a fast start, scoring in the ninth minute. But Nantucket controlled much of the game from that point on. Brannigan scored her first goal from about 35 yards out at the 19th minute, just barely wrapping it inside the far post to make it 1-1. But Brannigan wasn't done in the first half. She scored again off a corner kick by Mia Gazaille at the 36th minute of the first half.
Nantucket’s Emery Bouchard scored her goal as time was winding down in the first half with a high arching shot that extended Nantucket’s lead to 3-1 as they entered halftime.
The Lions came out strong to begin the final half, scoring in the sixth minute while taking advantage of some open space in the Whaler's defensive end to make it a 3-2 game. It could have been the pendulum swing this team needed in order to tie the game up, but Brannigan wasn’t done making her mark on the game.
Brannigan made an excellent hustle play in her offensive end, beating the Lions’ goalkeeper to a ball. She was able to put just enough force into the ball for it to roll past the goal line as she collided with the SJP goalie. Brannigan was shaken up briefly after the collision, but it was well worth it as her effort give Nantucket a 4-2 lead.
The Whaler’s defense and ball control was strong from that point on, led by Misurelli and Taylor Bistany, who may have saved a pair of goals with some of her defensive efforts, LeBrecht said.
In the final five minutes of the game, Whaler senior goalie Ella Scott, who had been having a strong game to that point, suffered an injury that forced her out of the game. Freshman Allyson Escobar came into the game and while the Lions scored just seconds after the injury stoppage ended, Escobar had a few key plays where she nullified SJP’s offensive chances in the final minutes to help Nantucket hang onto their lead.
The Whaler's will look to improve their record to 4-1 on Saturday, September 17 when they host Martha's Vineyard at 11:30 a.m.