Anderson locks up Segalla and a BL title for Mills.
BURLINGTON It was Senior Night at Nassahegan Field on Tuesday but it was a freshman that helped lead the Lewis Mills Spartans to a share of the Berkshire League girls soccer title.
Playing in the biggest game of her young high school career, Spartans freshman Hannah Anderson came in and did something no one had done all season, shut down Housationic scoring sensation Lauren Segalla.
Anderson’s defense on Segalla and goals by seniors Lindsey Viets and Madison Murdick addedup to a 21 Lewis Mills victory over Housatonic Regional and a share of the BL crown.
Although disappointed with the loss and not winning the title outright, the Mountaineers (151) returned to Falls Village with a piece of the league title for the first time since 2007.
But on this night it was the Spartans that felt like champs and that was thanks in large part to Anderson. Segalla is one of the state’s top scoring threats and entered the game with 36 goals in her first 15 games this season.
Segalla struck for three goals in the Mountaineer’s stunning 40 victory over the Spartans a month ago but was unable to add another tally to her impressive totals.
Mills coach Dennis Fowler has remade this version of the Spartans on the fly. AllState forward Ailene Berry was lost for the season to a knee injury the day before the first meeting with Housatonic and her absence meant Mills would have to do things a little differently.
A formation switch to a traditional 442 was one of the changes and perhaps the biggest change came Sunday morning when Fowler called Anderson to tell her she would be taking on Segalla.
“I called her up on Sunday morning, we had a Sunday practice and I didn’t want to announce it to her in front of everybody so I called her up and said I just want to let you know we are going to put you on Lauren. I know you can do it,” Fowler said.
And she did.
Positioning herself in just the right spots to harass the speedy Segalla and never give her enough room to really get going. Not that Segalla wasn’t ever a threat and she had a few flashes as the Mountaineers furiously looked for the equalizer in the closing minutes, but Anderson and company made sure she never broke through.
“The key was keeping my positioning with her. I wanted to make sure that I never gave her too much space where she would be able to beat me,” Anderson said. “She’s very fast and I’m not one of the fastest players and I know that so I made sure I kept my space between her and we talked about it and my defenders were there with me the whole night.
That defense included seniors Taylor LeBel, Ellie Spring and Ashley Doyle, who all played roles in keeping Segalla in check.
“I thought Hannah did an awesome job. Lauren is such an awesome player and to shut her out speaks volumes about Hannah’s effort and our team effort,” Fowler said. “All we worked on the last few days was team defense, where to be, what to do.”
The work those last few days also included a special guest as Lewis Mills boys star Freddy Marinelli worked out with the girls team and played the role of Segalla.
Anderson joked that after playing against Marinelli she hoped Segalla wouldn’t be as fast and as good.
“Freddy came over yesterday to play Lauren and it helped us so we could get used to that speed and physicality and aggressiveness,” Fowler said.
In the first meeting the Spartans took Murdick, an AllState player herself last season, and used her to mark Segalla.
It threw everything out of whack as Segalla controlled the game and without Murdick in her central midfield role, the Spartans offense suffered its lone shutout of the season.
This time around Murdick was free to create and she scored what proved to be the game winner off a corner early in the second half to give Mills a 20 lead.
“Not marking Segalla, I could get forward and it allowed me to create some more offense, get the ball to the forwards and get free,” Murdick said.
Free was something that Segalla never got to feel Tuesday and it was mainly because of Anderson and her attitude in accepting the challenge.
“When I told her she said ‘coach, thank you so much for the opportunity’,” Fowler said. “She’s a girl that has those intangibles that coaches talk about, likability, coachability, hard work, effort, and attitude.”
And all those traits sound like the makeup of a winner, which Anderson and her Spartans teammates are once again after their ninth straight win. “I have never had to do anything like this,” Anderson said, “It was something new and something that I loved doing, it was amazing.”