NEEDHAM, Mass. -- Needham is heading to Harvard.
The No. 6 seed Needham Rockets took down No. 10 B.C. High on Saturday, 12-7, in the East Division 1 Semifinal, to move ahead to the Final at Harvard Stadium on Wednesday.
“Playing at Harvard has been a goal that these guys have set since I would say even years back,” Needham head coach Dave Wainwright said. “For us, last year we missed it by a goal against Saint John’s Prep to get there. We feel like that final piece of the journey is now – it’s now there for us. So we’re excited to say the least.”
The Rockets (16-5) lit up in the fourth quarter netting six goals –- a total they combined in the first three -- but the final frame was cat-and-mouse action with a 2-1-2 pattern in their favor.
Up 6-4, Needham’s Mark Riley (3 G) tallied his second straight shot -- the team’s first of the fourth quarter -- at 10:15, running up the middle against BC High’s Jonathan Barton in net. Timmy Parlato followed with a similar shot just eight seconds later for the double lead over the Eagles (13-9).
“Big sigh out of me,” Wainwright said. “When Timmy does big moments like that and becomes that big playmaker that he has been all season for us, we know things are going in the right direction.”
BC High’s Corey Davidson (2 G), who had a big game in the Eagles’ last match, answered with his second of the game at 8:47 on a bouncing shot on Needham’s Lucas Davis.
The Rockets fired back with two straight goals. At 6:48, Nico Panepinto (3 G) twisted his body in the circle to lay the ball in and, at 5:37, Mike Vespa scored from the left wing with James Caruso (2 G, 1 A) assisting.
Alex O’Brien netted B.C. High’s sixth goal at 4:35, but really Needham was taking charge. Nico Panepinto tallied again at 4:22 in front of the goal and Caruso scored the 12th at 3:22 on an open net.
BC High’s Brendan Hogan put the final ball in with 2:20 remaining.
Needham held a 3-0 lead after goals by Mikey Panepinto, Riley and Jamie McGill. BC High came within one for a 3-2 score after goals at 4:27 and 3:01, but again Needham put two past Barton in quick succession at 2:11 and 2:05. B.C. pulled within two to end the first half.
LUCAS DAVIS WITH THE SAVES
Davis made 18 saves in between the pipes and drew the praises of his coach.
“I don’t really get tired of answering questions about a kid that has been playing for me since eighth grade,” Wainwright said. “He’s an absolute joy to have, an absolute pleasure for our defense to play for. My guys, like I’ve said before and I”ll say it again, they rally to play for him and [Davis] feeds off that confidence and that’s why he’s able to do the things he does.
“[He] kind of came out and he felt a little uneasy because, like everyone, they’re high school kids and they felt some nerves, and his veteran leadership and his ability to take from his experience in the past two years, he was able to really put it on the field today.”
READY TO FACEOFF AGAINST DUXBURY
Needham will face No. 1 Duxbury in the final at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Duxbury more than doubled up No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury, 18-6, on Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to it because we’ve seen them before and, when you’ve seen something, the mystery is now gone,” Wainwright said. “It’ll be gone for both teams and I realize that. But I feel like we’re going to give it our best shot, and you know what, no one is really going to pick us, but we’re going to be the ones to hopefully be that spoiler.”