(Nov. 2, 2018) The Worcester Prep girls’ soccer team finished undefeated, 11-0, this season and captured the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship title.

“We played tough. It was a battle and I knew it was going to be a battle,” Prep Coach Carol Hartnett said after the Lady Mallards’ 2-1 victory over the Salisbury School Dragons in the ESIAC finals last Friday in Berlin. “Every minute was fought as hard as the last minute. There wasn’t any letdown on either side.”

Prep freshman Natalie Brushmiller netted a shot midway into the first half to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Salisbury evened the score about three minutes into the second half. Junior Emily Copeland put Worcester back on top a minute later and the home team held on to win.

Senior captain, goalie Gracie Gardner, stopped seven Salisbury shots.

“It’s amazing. Last year we lost to Saints Peter & Paul in overtime, which was a tough loss, and this feels like redemption at its finest,” senior captain Delaney Abercrombie said. “Everybody put in so much effort and I really saw it when we scored that first goal. I could just feel it. It was going to go our way.”

The team scored 58 goals this year and only gave up one – in the championship game. Hartnett said to end the season undefeated is “huge.”

“It was a perfect season. It does not happen,” Hartnett said. “As I told them when we were taking a picture after the game, just savor this because these moments do not come often in life, just enjoy it and have a great weekend and think of all the hard work you’ve done since August to get here.”

Several Mallards received All-Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference awards.

Gardner was named Player of the Year.

“It’s so exciting. It’s just an honor to even be nominated, and to win, is amazing,” Gardner said. “It was the support from my teammates. If I hadn’t had them in front of me I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this, especially the one goal.”

Gardner, Abercrombie, Copeland, senior captain Alannah Curtis, junior Mesa Cammack and freshman Morgan White were presented All-Conference awards. Brushmiller took home an ESIAC honorable mention award.

Brushmiller was Worcester’s high scorer this year with 18 goals. Abercrombie was second with 14 goals.

“Coach H has been an awesome coach, Coach [Allison Bescak] as well,” Abercrombie said. “I’ve learned a lot from them and I’m really going to miss it. Soccer Island is a special place.”

Gardner finished with 48 saves this season.

“It’s a special place Worcester Prep, especially the soccer program,” Gardner continued. “I just want to thank my coaches, especially Miss B for always warming me up and Miss H for always having confidence in me.”

Hartnett said she would sum up the season the way the Mallards started – “working hard, playing hard and succeeding together.”

“That’s what it’s been from the beginning,” she added. “When I talked to them the other day, I said ‘this is why we were out here in 90-degree weather, drilling and training and coming together as a team.’”

The team will graduate four seniors and major contributors – Gardner, Abercrombie, Curtis and Chloe Ruddo.

“It’s going to look different next year because we’re losing leadership at every level,” Hartnett said. “There were strikers, low D, goalie, we’re going to lose from every level but like the seven that graduated last year, they’ve prepared the other girls to step up. They’ll pass the baton to someone else.”

Hartnett’s roster this year consisted of four seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and 14 freshmen. All of the girls got playing time and contributed to the success of the season.

“It was just a perfect season,” Hartnett said. “They’re a great group of girls and I was lucky to have the chance to work with them. The season went by in a blink. It was awesome.”

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