Boston High School: Alex Merlino
November, 19, 2011
By James Walsh | ESPNBoston.com
WORCESTER, Mass. — The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders denied the Concord-Carlisle Patriots a chance at a three-peat with a 2-0 victory in the division two state championship game on Saturday evening.
Dan Beyh scored the game winner in the 61st minute, after coming on as a substitute.
“Dan Beyh has come off the bench all season for us to give us a spark,” said Crusaders head coach Sean Wisbey of his senior forward. “I felt half way through the half let’s bring him in and see if he can give us that extra edge.”
The action started right out of the gate. In the third minute, C-C captain Chris Walker-Jacks lofted in a free kick from the midfield line into the Crusaders' 18-yard box. The cross bounced towards teammate Scott Brazina, who was just unable to connect with a shot. Any contact would have put the Patriots ahead early on.
In the fourth minute Crusaders forward Chris McKinney hit a well stuck low shot on net, but Patriots keeper Cray Novick got down to his left in time to make the save.
The half’s best chance came during a mad scramble in from of the goal of C-C (16-5-2) nearly 16 minutes from the break. G-D's leading scorer, Nate Pomeroy, had a point blank shot saved by Novick, and a scramble between Patriot defenders and Crusaders forwards ensued before Novick finally covered up the ball.
The teams went into halftime tied at 0-0.
The second half opened up like the first half ,with each side having a quality scoring chance. The Crusaders (21-1-0) had theirs come first in the 47th minute when Pomeroy had a cross deflected down by the C-C defense. The deflection went straight to G-D midfielder Doug Rosa, but the junior’s shot went left of the goal.
In the 51st minute Patriot midfielder Stephen Yen crossed the ball right to Brazina, who has wide open on the back post, but his shot rolled just wide of the post.
Beyh’s breakthrough finally came in the 61st minute. Left midfielder Alex Merlino made a few nice moves to lose his defender then sent his right footed cross to the back post where Beyh was waiting, and he finished with his right foot across the goal.
Apparently Wisbey knew that Beyh was going to score the match winner.
“My coach told me ‘you’re going to score that goal'," Beyh said. “I knew that today we’d be state champions, but I didn’t know I’d be the one to score the goal.”
In the 76th minute, Ben Chilcoat made the save of the season for G-D on a Mikey O’Brien shot. O’Brien left a few defenders in the dust before unleashing a shot from eight yards out, only to be denied by a diving Chilcoat.
“Reaction honestly,” said Chilcoat when asked how he pulled the save off. “I don’t even remember, it was that quick.”
With just over two minutes remaining the Crusaders doubled their lead thanks to Merlino. The senior took advantage of a few missed clearances by Concord-Carlisle and took his chance well for a 2-0 final.
“It felt great,” Merlino said about scoring the inscurance goal. “Iit took awhile, we were persistent, but we got our goals.”