BROCKTON, Mass. ---- For the third consecutive season, the Massasoit CC women's soccer team will trek across the state to battle nationally ranked Holyoke CC in the Region 21 Championship. The match is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m. in Holyoke.
Massasoit (10-4-1, 7-3-1 R21) will be looking for a different outcome at the Region 21 Finals compared to the previous two seasons, as the NJCAA 10th-ranked Holyoke Cougars (11-4-3, 8-1-1 R21) won the 2013 and 2014 titles by 2-0 scores.
In addition, Massasoit has not defeated HCC, in the regular season or postseason, since the 2008 season, a stretch spanning 21 consecutive matches. The last win for the Warriors over the Cougars took place in the Massachusetts Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) Tournament, 2-1, on Oct. 22, 2008.
Both schools have battled closely during the 2015 season, featuring a tie and one-goal contest.
In the first matchup, located in Brockton, HCC raced out to a 2-0 first half lead, but the Warriors responded with second half goals from Gina Nutting (Rockland) and Shelby Sprague (Stoughton) to send the game to overtime. Neither squad could score in the two OT periods, resulting in a draw. It marked the first time Massasoit had not lost a game to HCC since the 2009 season. The last tie took place on Sept. 9, 2009.
The second meeting took place in Holyoke, with the Cougars escaping with a 1-0 victory. In the 88th minute and the game deadlocked in a scoreless tie, Massasoit was whistled for an inadvertent handball in the box. HCC's Natalie Galindo buried the penalty kick, as the Cougars claimed the 1-0 victory.
Massasoit, ranked No. 20 in the most recent NSCAA poll, features one of the top scorers not only in the region but all of the NJCAA. Freshman Shelby Sprague has netted 25 goals on the season, ranking third in nation, and has a total of 54 points. Krista Woodworth (Norton) has also showcased a strong freshman campaign, scoring nine goals and dishing out a team-high 10 assists.
In net, Laura Ellis (Raynham/Bristol-Plymouth Voc.) mas made 100 saves, with 25 stops coming in the two matches vs. the Cougars.
Massasoit went undefeated through its first seven matches and closed out the regular season winners of three of the last four matches.
Massasoit is in search of its first regional title since 1999.
HCC is no stranger the Region 21 Finals, claiming the crown in six of the last seven years.
Holyoke has lost just once in its last nine matches, with the lone blemish coming out of league play to ASA College.
For the season, HCC is scoring 3.6 goals per contest and holding the competition to under a goal per match (0.92).
The Cougars have not lost to the Warriors since the 2008 season, spanning 21 consecutive matches. During that span, Massasoit and HCC have tied twice, including a 2-2 draw this season.
HCC has posted a total of 11 shutouts, including eight in the last nine matches, with Megan Zabik as the primary goal keeper.
Natalie Galindo (13g, 6a) and Olivia Neiswanger (12g, 4a) are forces on the offensive end for the Cougars.