Four years ago, Olivia Borgen, Nora Manning and Ava Melia cracked the Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ soccer team as freshmen.
They made an immediate impact.
Borgen and Manning netted eight goals apiece, which was good for second on the team. Melia was a standout on the back line.
Four years later, they depart as the senior captains of the program’s first-ever state title.
“They were the driving force, in a sense that they’ve experienced some big games,” said W-H head coach David Floeck. “We didn’t have the state tournament the year prior but they had the experience from their freshman and sophomore years of playing in a state tournament, so their leadership on and off the field was really invaluable for us. They were definitely the engine that made us go — those three.”
The state championship game is a perfect example.
The Panthers looked down and out as they trailed a Silver Lake team — that had shut them out in both of their previous two meetings — 1-0 late in the second half.
Olivia Borgen, despite being in a walking boot with a sprained right ankle until she boarded the bus, provided the spark with the equalizer in the 69th minute.
Shortly thereafter, Manning made perhaps the play of the game when she drew a foul on the Silver Lake keeper in the box.
Enter Melia. She rocketed home the penalty kick for a 2-1 W-H lead.
Manning followed it up with a goal of her own to add some insurance.
“Liv and Ava are my best friends and it is so special to me that I got the chance to spend some of the best years of my life with them,” said Manning, who netted 12 goals and dished out 15 assists. “Playing with them these past four years has been amazing. I’m going to miss playing with [them] more than anything and I still can’t believe it’s all over.”
Added Borgen, a back-to-back All-New England selection, who scored a team-high 23 goals with 14 assists: “It’s so special to have shared this journey with them. From tiny little freshman trying to fit in on the team to senior captains leading our team to a state championship, it feels unreal.”
Said Melia, a two-time EMass first-teamer: “To make varsity together as timid, young freshman to later make it all the way as captains and state champions is amazing.”
Borgen and Melia are no stranger to lifting hardware. Back in 2017, they won the National Championship together with their South Shore Select club team.
“Sharing that with her has given us an amazing relationship,” Melia said.
The three will head their separate ways next year to continue their soccer careers. Borgen will play at Penn State, Manning is heading to Stonehill College and Melia is going to Bryant University.
“They led the way with their energy level and how much it mattered,” Floeck said. “They were really committed to try and bring a state championship to the school.”