Boston High School: Akere Tambi

MIAA Soccer: Needham boys blank Dartmouth

November, 10, 2012
TAUNTON, Mass. -- There are certain points in a game when a goal will have the biggest impact on an opponent. Early goals, goals just before halftime, or goals coming out of the break can be devastating to the mental state of the opposing team.

The Rockets used all three on Friday night.

The Needham High boys’ soccer team picked the perfect moments to score each of its three goals in a 3-0 shutout of the No. 4 seed Dartmouth in Friday night’s Division 1 South sectional semifinal at Taunton High School.

Senior captain Will Corkery scored just 90 seconds into the game with a laser into the top corner off an assist from fellow captain Mac Steeves. The goal stunned the Indians (15-3-2), but they came back stronger and continued to push the top seed.

At the end of an even first half, the Rockets (18-1-3) struck again.

Just four minutes before the break, Hantzly Murat -- who had been on the field for less than a minute -- was in the right place to prod home the rebound of a Steeves shot to make it 2-0 going into the half. At this stage, the next goal was going to be crucial to the outcome.

Needham didn't have to wait long for that.

The Rockets effectively killed off the game two minutes into the second half when a Steeves long throw picked out an unmarked Aram Ouligiam to nod home the third. Dartmouth continued to fight and create chances, but Needham defended well and held out for the win.

Dartmouth head coach Steve Frank acknowledged after the game that heads dropped on the Indians sideline when the third goal was scored.

“That deflated them," he said. "We didn’t mark him. He had an open net to head into and you just can’t do that. You can’t do it against weak teams, never mind a great team like this one.”

While Steeves is the headliner for the Rockets, head coach Don Brock emphasized the strength the Rockets have shown defensively this season.

“They’ve been underrating our crew since we stumbled a little at the beginning of the season," he said. "This is a good squad.”

Following Corkery’s opener, Dartmouth had a series of free kicks that were played long into the box, but Needham keeper Kevin MacMillan held strong with solid catches in traffic. In the 18th minute, the Indians had their best chance at an equalizer when Nick Paine’s shot was cleared off the line by Ouligiam.

In the second half, Dartmouth also had a chance cleared off the line as Andres Pinto had a strong header blocked. Needham also had several chances to extend the lead through Nolan Brady and a Corkery free kick that curled off the crossbar.

The Indians battled an unfamiliar turf surface and the Rockets’ height advantage, but continued to fight to avoid a shutout, which impressed their coach.

“This group has been tremendous, just a pleasure to be around," Frank said. "They play hard. Up to the end we were trying to plug to get a goal so we could stop the shutout, but it wasn’t to be.”

Needham advances to the sectional finals Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Braintree High, against Bay State Conference rivals Weymouth.

State tournament notes:

" When the Needham and Weymouth players shook hands and walked off the Memorial Field pitch after the Rockets ended the Wildcats’ very short reign as the No. 1 team in the state, both teams said, “We’ll see you in the playoffs.” Thanks to an overtime goal by senior Akere Tambi, Weymouth advanced past Oliver Ames on its home field. The Tigers took the lead twice but both times Weymouth responded and now the top two seeds will meet for the third time this season. Oliver Ames made another strong push this season, which may be its last in Division 1. Head coach Jon Barata expects the Tigers to be in D2 next season.

" The number one seed also advanced to the D1 South girls’ sectional as the Franklin Panthers continued their unbeaten season with a 2-0 win over Marshfield. Kristi Kirshe scored her 99th career goal in the Panthers victory. It will be an all-Hockomock final after Oliver Ames knocked off the No. 2 seeded Needham Rockets. The lone goal of the game was scored by senior Kendall Andrew.

" The big game in the D1 North sectional pitted No. 1 seed Masconomet (the No. 1 ranked team in the state) against fourth-seeded St. John’s Prep. The game lived up to the hype with Prep pulling the 2-1 upset and advancing to the finals on Sunday against still unbeaten Somerville. Prep has now knocked off two of the top five teams in the state to make the sectional finals (the other being Acton-Boxborough in round two). In the girls’ sectional, the Beverly Panthers continued to make a historic run as they knocked off Westford Academy 1-0 and will meet Central Catholic, who won by the same score line against Lincoln-Sudbury.

" The defending state champions are still alive, but just barely. The Ludlow Lions were pushed to overtime by Chicopee in the West sectional, but scored the golden goal to continue on, 2-1 and will face Amherst in the sectional finals. Both the Belchertown boys’ and girls’ teams continued their unbeaten runs and will head to their respective D2 West finals.

" There are a lot of conferences that get their rightful due as being competitive top to bottom, such as the Hockomock, the Bay State, and the Dual County, but the Tri-Valley league is rarely part of that conversation. This year, the TVL sent three teams into the semifinals of the D2 South boys sectional, will send the Medfield girls into the D2 South finals, and Dover-Sherborn boys and girls into the D3 finals. The league is often overlooked because it lacks a presence in D1, but it has real depth and is guaranteed at least one team taking home a sectional title this season.

" Earlier this week, star players Andrea O’Brien (Concord-Carlisle) and Hayley Dowd (Peabody) had their illustrious high school careers come to an end. On Friday night, Canton’s Lauren Berman had her season ended at the hands of Duxbury in penalties. All three crossed the 100-goal plateau in their careers and each will be headed to play in college next season (Dowd and O’Brien at Boston College, and Berman at Maryland).

Recap: No. 6 Needham 1, No. 1 Weymouth 0

October, 16, 2012
(Video highlights courtesy of the Needham Channel)

NEEDHAM, Mass, -- The Needham Rockets caused what should be another shake-up at the top of the ESPN Boston boys' soccer poll and a certain shift in the Bay State Conference standings with a 1-0 win over No. 1 Weymouth on Tuesday night at Memorial Park.

Mac Steeves scored the game’s lone goal for the No. 6 Rockets on a well-struck shot into the bottom corner that took a slight deflection to sneak under the body of Weymouth keeper Lucas Rezende-Verge. Senior Jack Nardi got the assist on the goal.

Steeves created several other chances for himself in the first half, but struggled to keep the ball on frame as Rezende-Vega would only be called into action twice in the game. In the second half, Needham (11-1-3) pushed numbers behind the ball and soaked up Weymouth pressure. Steeves was called into action on the defensive side and won a number of headers in his own box against Wildcats star forward Mike Lynch.

Needham coach Don Brock, who saw his team give up a 1-0 lead in the teams’ first meeting, was happy to see the Rockets hold on defensively.

“We knew it was going to be a good ballgame. Wish we could have put a couple more in, but we kept them off the board. The defense has been playing well the last six or seven games.”

Needham’s goalscorer was glad to get a win over Weymouth, but just as happy to see his three fellow captains (Sam Tillotson, Brandon Miskin, and William Corkery) on the field together. Steeves pointed out, “This is our first game that we’ve actually had everyone healthy on the team. As a group collectively, I think we played great. It’s the first time this season we’ve gotten to play together.”

The Wildcats (12-1-3) showed tenacity and urgency down the stretch as they tried to find an equalizer, but the Needham defense limited Weymouth, almost exclusively, to shots from long distance. The best chances for Weymouth came in the final minutes of each half.

Senior forward Akere Tambi turned his defender inside the box, but skied his shot over the bar with nearly the last kick of the first half. In the dying moments of the game, midfielder Joshua Berg had a shot on the half-volley, but was not able to put the shot on target.

It was a frustrating game for head coach Bill McEachern but one that is typical of the rivalry and the level of respect each program has for its counterpart.

“When you get a big match like this it’s who works to get the bounces. Mac [Steeves] worked for it, under high pressure and he’s that kind of player that he can put it away."

McEachern added with a wry smile, "There is a lot of respect, but it was a big challenge for us and a tough situation but…we’ll see them again."

During the postgame handshake, most of the players shared the same sentiments.

Needham goalie Kevin Macmillan kept his shutout streak alive with five saves, the best of which may have been his quick reactions to a Lynch free kick just 10 minutes into the game.

Weymouth is now a point behind Needham in the BSC standings with three league matches remaining. Next up for the Wildcats is a game Thursday against Brookline.

Needham will host Braintree on Senior Day, Thursday, at DeFazio Field.

Bay State, Catholic Conf. teams tussle on pitch

October, 2, 2010
The Second Annual Bay State Catholic Conference Challenge took place Saturday at DeFazio Field in Needham. And, for the second season in a row, the Bay State Conference came out undefeated.

The 1 p.m. kickoffs had two intriguing matchup’s with Bay State Carey Leaders Weymouth (6-1-2 overall) taking on Catholic Conference leaders St. John’s Prep (5-1-2 overall), also the Defending D-1 State Champs Catholic Memorial (2-2-2 overall) matching up with the Braintree Wamps (3-2-4).

The first half hour between Weymouth and St. John's Prep saw little scoring chances, but that changed with 11:04 remaining in the first half when the Wildcats began to apply some serious pressure. Senior captain Zak Stuart worked his way to the end line and delivered a cross towards Akere Tambi, but St. John’s goaltender Adam Collea was in a good position and punched the cross away from Tambi.

But Collea was helpless one minute later on a Wildcats corner, which wasn’t headed away from danger. Weymouth junior TJ Butler volleyed the second ball straight into the side netting so sweetly that no keeper in the state would have saved it.

“It was pretty good, one of my top ones," Butler said of the goal after the match, “I felt like I got pretty lucky there, it just popped out and I put it in.”

Butler had another strike moments later sail just over the bar. Weymouth took a 1-0 lead into the half.

The Eagles had their two best chances in the final 11 minutes of the game. The referee awarded an indirect free kick inside the penalty box to St. John’s, which Deklan Robinson struck into Weymouth’s wall. In stoppage time, Jake Gourdeau had a free header from the penalty spot, which sailed over the bar.

Weymouth won by the final of 1-0 improving to 7-1-2 while St. John’s Prep fell to 5-2-2.

Catholic Memorial found themselves ahead after just two minutes thanks to Owen Carroll, who finished from just outside the six-yard box. Braintree tied the game up 11 minutes later off of a long throw in and the teams went into the half tied at one. And while CM had the run of play from the moment Braintree scored at was the Wamps who went in front for good with a half an hour to go after Rob Ross found Jared Rizzo streaking in and Rizzo finished low far post.

“We didn’t start too well, but we finished well,” Rizzo said. "I think we’re starting to pick it up and will put a little run together.”

There were three games at three o’clock, and on paper No. 10 Brookline verses BC High seemed like it would provide the most excitement. BC High got on the score sheet first when Yago Tome scored with 2:24 remaining in the first half sending the Eagles into the break with the one-goal edge.

Senior forward Pietro Gaudiano put the Warriors back on level terms with just 16:03 remaining in regulation, and for the second season in a row the two teams played to a 1-1 draw. The Warriors (now 5-1-3 overall) are on their worst run of the season with a loss and two draws in their last three games, while the draw was the fifth of the season for the Eagles who move to 1-1-5.

Newton North picked up their second win of the season over Malden Catholic (2-3-1), ending the Lancers two game winning streak. Sophomore Michael Kaye and junior Luke Westman were on target for the Tigers (2-4-3) in a game that head coach Roy Dow thinks is a big step forward for his team.

“I think this is our first game where we really played well for 80 minutes," Dow said.

And it was just the second clean sheet of the season for Newton North. “In the back we were winning everything, our guys have adopted the mentality if it’s in the air coming to our back line to win it in the air, so that really helped us today.”

Needham versus Xaverian rounded out the three o’clock contests with the Rockets picking up a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from junior Quinton Pangier and sophomore Mac Steeves. It was the first goals of the season for both players, but for Steeves it was a long time coming after having three goals called back in 2010 by referees decisions.

Steeves is no stranger to scoring, having scored eight goals as a freshman. But he admits it was good to get off the mark this year.

“It actually felt really good, hoping to score a few more this season and pick up a few more wins,” Steeves said.

The Rockets are 3-4-1 after the game while Xaverian is still in search of their first victory at 0-5-3.

The challenge moved from four games to five this season, and will become a regular fixture for all the teams involved.

“This tournament is going to go on from year to year, everyone seems to like it” Needham head coach Don Brock said. “We try to do this in the middle of the year to give it a tournament flavor and it’s been well received so far.”

The Bay State Conference leads the Catholic Conference in this particular challenge 7-0-2 which started in 2009.