The Parker soccer team is not exactly the same one that finished 19-2 and reached the Class 1A state final last year before falling 2-1 to Quincy Notre Dame.
Three seniors graduated. With nine starters back, the team has been conscious of the demands of replicating last year’s success.
“On the outside of the team, people are always asking how are we doing. On the inside everybody knows we have an expectation about us, but we don’t let that to get to us,” sophomore midfielder Emily Saturno said.
Saturno scored two goals, one early and the other late, as the host Colonels captured the Independent School League conference title with a 2-0 victory over Willows on Wednesday afternoon in Lincoln Park.
The victory was the last of the regular season for Parker, the No. 1 seed of its own Class 1A regional that starts next week.
Willows (10-5-2, 4-1-1) reached the sectional final last year before losing to St. Edward. The Eagles are the top seed in the North Shore Regional.
Coach Amy McMahon has eight starters back from last year’s team. “I can’t really think about the sectional, because we go game by game,” she said.
She said this year’s group has the ability to put together another deep state tournament run.
“If we start clicking,” she said. “We have to start putting passes together upfront, and that was our problem today. We kept sending through balls instead of playing to our feet.
“Defensively I thought we played pretty sound.”
Saturno provided the early momentum drilling a ball just outside the box to score in the sixth minute. She finished off a nice cross from forward Paris Rosenthal. “It was a complete team effort,” she said.
“The ball came from the outside in, on a good build up, and it was typical of the way we play,” Saturno said. “It started in the center, went out wide and came back and I put right in.”
Parker coach Neil Curran said Colonels keeper Evelyn Demirjian played her finest game of the year in registering nine saves for the shutout. She made two superb diving stops, one off Eagles midfielder Marilyn Price in the 25th minute, that preserved Parker’s tight lead.
The game’s key sequence occurred in the 75th minute. Willows’ top athlete, midfielder Brigid Walsh, blasted a ball from about 19 yards out that was on frame and about to create the equalizer before Demirjian made a sliding deflection that directed the ball off the post.
Saturno put the game away in the 79th minute with a one-touch, left-footed blast from the right edge. The two goals were her fourth and fifth of the year.
“I think it’s all about working together,” Saturno said. “We’ve been really good about getting our rhythm down and now it’s all about getting ready for regionals.”