WALPOLE — From the onset of its season, the Algonquin girls soccer team followed a simple mindset: that soccer should be fun.
So as John Frederick made his way down a long line of players on Saturday afternoon following the Titans’ 1-0 loss to Hingham in the Division 1 state championship, the first-year girls soccer coach delivered a similar sentiment to each of his players as he placed runner-up medals around their necks.
“Tremendous. So good. So happy for you. Right?” Frederick said as finished up by hugging senior goalkeeper Keely Scott. “Soccer’s fun. Soccer’s fun.”
It certainly was for Algonquin this fall.
It took 19 games for the Titans to lose their first game – a CMADA matchup with Grafton – before reeling off four straight playoff wins to set up a winner-take-all showdown with Hingham (19-0-4) on Saturday.
In the state final, UCLA commit Sophie Reale scored a first-half goal for Hingham before the second-seeded Harborwomen held off the fourth-seeded Titans in the second half to hand Algonquin just its second loss of the season.
“A win would’ve been great but I couldn’t be prouder of all of these girls,” Algonquin senior captain Mia Lochhead said. “We played our hearts out on the field, we were able to connect the way we wanted but – in the end – the ball didn’t go in the back of the net.
“This team is such a family and I’m so proud and thankful that I was able to be a part of it.”
Algonquin finishes its season with a 16-2-6 record and with its first state championship appearance since 2015. As the group wrapped up its final postgame meeting with Frederick, tears of sadness were traded for hugs of happiness.
Back on the courseEddie Wen returns to play golf for Algonquin this fall after enduring rare fencing injury
The Titans then reminisced about how fun this fall has been.
“I love this team so much and I think it’s going to hit me later,” Algonquin senior captain Sadie Candela said. “Not that we lost but that we don’t get to go to practice tomorrow.”
Said Frederick: “Soccer-wise – I’m super proud of the way we played but really in the end it’s just sad it’s done. The group is so fun, so fun. That to me is everything.”
“It’s a sisterhood,” Lochhead said.
A nice moment following the Division 1 girls soccer state championship when first-year Algonquin coach John Frederick embraced each of his players and put a runner-up medal around their necks. To his senior goalie Keely Scott, Frederick said “Soccer’s fun. Soccer’s fun.” pic.twitter.com/ieITySGk8g
A little over 15 minutes into the Div. 1 state final, Reale rifled a shot from the right side of the box into the back of the net. That score turned out to be the only goal of the game.
“Hingham is a handful and obviously (Reale) is very difficult to contain,” Frederick said.
The Titans then held possession for a majority of the second half – including a flurry of corner kicks and offensive chances in the 69th and 70th minute.
Then in stoppage time, sophomore Dylan Lochhead lifted a corner kick into the middle of the fray but the ball didn’t find a Gonk body part and was cleared out of the box by Hingham before the final whistle sounded – a few minutes later – to set off a Hingham pig-pile on the turf.
FINAL: Hingham 1, Algonquin 0
Gonk gets some good opportunities late but couldn’t find the back of the net as Hingham wins the Division 1 state championship. pic.twitter.com/P38cgFvZUj
“I’m just so, so proud of this team and the way we played and I don’t think we could’ve played any better despite the score,” Algonquin senior Gabby Miranda said.
Keira Megan: This Algonquin junior and former gymnast showed off her tumbling skills with not one but two “flip throw-ins” during the state final in which she would do a front flip before rolling over and throwing the ball in play.
“I really wanted to do it in a game and that was one of my goals and when coach gave us that chance I was like ‘I’m ready to do it,’” Megan said.
As Candela walked off of the Walpole High turf field on Saturday, she couldn’t help but give kudos to her first-year head coach for helping to develop such a tight-knit group this fall.
“He’s done such amazing stuff for us,” Candela said of Frederick. “This team is amazing but he’s led the way. I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Frederick feels the same way. After all, soccer was fun this fall for Algonquin.
“Sure they wanted to win but to know that they’ve already turned the page and we can smile and laugh and talk about the season, that’s more important than any of it,” Frederick said. “This group played their last match; they were just great. It was just fun to be around.”
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.