Boston High School: Belchertown

D3 Soccer: Belchertown, Newburyport win states

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
10:42
PM ET
WORCESTER, Mass. -– Most former high school soccer players have long forgotten the final kick of their careers. Belchertown senior midfielder Cameron Messier will remember his for the rest of his life.

Messier scored his fourth, and most important, goal of the season six minutes into the first overtime to lift the Orioles to a 2-1 victory over Medway in the Division 3 state title game at Foley Stadium in Worcester. Saturday night’s dramatic win earned the program its first ever state championship.

“As soon as I scored, it was just a huge rush of adrenaline and I ran to the fans,” described Messier. “It feels like a dream right now. As soon as it hit his hands and I put it in, I just immediately [thought] ‘Oh my god, that’s the game!” It was incredible.”

[+] EnlargeBelchertown soccer
Josh Perry for ESPNBoston.comBelchertown grabbed the D3 state title in dramatic fashion over Medway, scoring six minutes into overtime.
The overtime began with Medway trying to create havoc and pushing numbers forward, but in the sixth minute Belchertown found space to cross from the right. The ball eluded junior Billy Aldrich and fell to midfielder John Ingram, who flashed a shot across the face of goal. The shot was saved by a diving Michael Bagdon, but the rebound fell to the foot of Messier, who made no mistake with the finish.

Medway head coach Jeff Hallenbeck was disappointed that his team was not able to bring home the title for the second straight season (the Mustangs fell to Groton-Dunstable in the D2 state title game in 2012), but could only shrug at how the final goal was scored.

He noted, “We started letting down in the midfield, so we started making adjustments on the fly. Once the overtime came along we decided to put immediate pressure on them. We got a couple of opportunities, but then gave up a bobbling ball in the middle.”

The Orioles jumped out quickly in the opening minutes of the game to earn three corners in the first four minutes, but it would be Medway that would get the scoring started. Six minutes into the game, sophomore Jacob Warren was played to the edge of the 18 by Justin Kaplan and then unleashed an unstoppable left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

It was a great start for the Mustangs, but Hallenbeck admitted that the team could not sustain that energy and allowed Belchertown to play their game.

“I don’t know if the guys got a little excited when we scored so early...I did,” he remarked. “They [Belchertown] play a very aggressive style; they were moving the ball quickly. We got into a little game of kickball. So they kind of threw us off our game.”

The Orioles got their footing as the half wore on and fully dominated possession after the break. In the final 10 minutes of regulation, Belchertown was pushing Medway back and had several chances at a winner. Alex DeSantis had the best opportunity with a brilliant turn and shot on the edge of the box that came back off the crossbar. The rebound was headed home by Aldrich, but he was ruled offside.

“We never lost confidence,” said Belchertown head coach Tony Almeida. “These kids are good and they’ve been working hard all season long and they knew they could recoup from this. It certainly wasn’t our best game but it was good enough today.”

Despite Belchertown having momentum, Hallenbeck insisted his team was confident heading into overtime. The Mustangs stormed out of the gate in search of an early goal, but did not get the bounce they needed and then watched the Orioles put away their chance at the other end.

“We went four attackers up top and only two central defenders; that’s it,” he explained. “We went with our defenders to just chip it over the top to our forwards, but unfortunately it didn’t fall to feet. It was a good goal for them. It should’ve been cleared, but it wasn’t; these things happen unfortunately.”

After back-to-back seasons of reaching the state semifinals in Division 2, Belchertown made it to the finals in its first year in D3 (its first finals appearance since 2005) and the Orioles took home the trophy for the first time.

The goal-scoring hero Messier marveled, “First time in history that we’ve ever won States at Belchertown High, so it’s just incredible, honestly.”

“I love it for the kids because I know that they really wanted it,” said Almeida. “It’s great for the program. The kids have been at it for a long, long time. We’ve been working hard for the past 10 years and it’s finally nice to get here and win one.”

D3 Girls Final: Newburyport 1, Granby 0
Newburyport (20-0-2) completed an undefeated season with a commanding performance in Saturday afternoon’s Division 3 final at Foley Stadium in Worcester. The Clippers scored the lone goal and controlled possession in a 1-0 victory over Granby (18-3-1).

Senior Jaycie Triandafilou scored the game’s only goal seven minutes into the first half when a corner from Amy Sullivan took a deflection off her thigh and slipped inside the post. As it turns out, it was the only goal that the Clippers would need.

“I don’t really know what to say; it was amazing,” reflected Triandafilou about the game-winning goal. “It’s my last game and it felt right to get it. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

The shutout was Newburyport’s 18th of the season and the Clippers only allowed five goals all season. Senior defender Alyssa Leahy is the lynchpin for the Clippers in the heart of the defense and was named the program’s first All-New England player. Co-head coach Kevin Sheridan credited the strong back line as the key to the state title.

“In the second half we started to control the game a little bit and that’s the way you want to win a championship,” said Sheridan.

Co-head coach Robb Gonnam, who also coaches many of the players during the club season, remarked, “Clearly, she dictates what happens back there. She makes [keeper] Lily [Donovan’s] job easier back there and she makes the fullbacks’ job much easier. She barks at them a lot, but it’s a lot better when you have someone directing traffic.”

Granby pushed forward at the end of the game, but it was Newburyport that had the best chances in the final minutes. Sullivan and Trianafilou both had chances to wrap up the victory with breakaways only to shoot straight at Granby keeper Brittany Hauschild.

After the game, Triandafilou was not concerned about the missed chances as she clutched the D3 state championship trophy.

“Our coach said last year when we lost in the North sectionals that we would be undefeated this season and it came true. That was fitting also.”

Soccer Roundup: Silver Lake routs New Bedford

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
1:05
AM ET
WEYMOUTH, Mass. -– Paul Beatty scored a second half hat trick to break open Thursday night’s Division 1 South sectional semifinal at Weymouth High. Beatty’s goals helped No. 1 seed (and No. 1 ranked) Silver Lake cruise to a 5-0 victory over No. 4 seed New Bedford.

Despite the final score, it was New Bedford that looked stronger at the start with star midfielder Klisman Sousa combining well with forward Edmilson Andrade and winger Felipe Ponte to put Silver Lake under pressure. The Whalers had the best chances of the first half and both came off of Sousa’s boot.

First, the Whalers senior played an in-swinging free kick that picked out defender Shawn Dias flying in at the far post, but he was unable to put the header on target. Just a minute later, New Bedford came forward again and Sousa worked the slightest sight of goal and let loose a left-foot rocket that Silver Lake keeper Stephen McSwain punched away.

Beatty had very little service in the first half with New Bedford putting a defender in front and behind him. The complexion of the game changed with just four minutes before the break. A long throw was barely touched past the post by Whalers keeper Austin Eugenio. On the resulting corner, New Bedford failed to clear and the ball bounced into the path of Tim Barrow, who ripped smashed it home to open the scoring.

Down by a goal, New Bedford started the second half by pushing numbers forward. That left room at the back for the speed of Beatty to have effect.

Lakers head coach Dan Correia explained, “They had all the momentum at that point, so for us to be able to be scrappy in the box and tuck one away...I mean those are the goals you need to get in these games. That opened things up a little bit in the second half because they had to change things defensively and freed Paul up.”

Beatty admitted that he was frustrated by the way the first half had gone, but he did not let it get to him. Instead, with his first real look at goal the striker was able to hit a shot that was deflected up over Eugenio to make it 2-0 just three minutes after halftime.

Beatty noted, “You just have to keep knowing that you’re doing the right thing and getting to places where you can get the ball and it will come eventually. I needed that to put me in the right state of mind.”

New Bedford tried to get back into the game through its star player, but Sousa was denied by McSwain again. The keeper was somehow able to get two hands to punch away a swerving shot and then also got down well to palm away the follow-up rebound by Andrade when it seemed destined for the net.

New Bedford head coach John Macaraco remarked that his team was unlucky not to have been on the board and that a goal at that moment would have changed the game.

He said, “The score doesn’t indicate how close this game was; every chance they got, they finished. Their keeper came up with some good saves. If we make it 2-1 then it’s a different game.”

From that point on, New Bedford struggled to get into the possession game that defines its style. Macaraco added, “We never settled down and got into our rhythm. I always say we need to play 'Calma' and I think we played 'calma' and go into our rhythm and if we did, I think the outcome would’ve been different.”

The Whalers were also facing a striker that suddenly felt momentum on his side. Beatty started to find a lot of space to turn and run at defenders. Fifteen minutes into the second half he went one-on-one with Ty Catunto and blew past him to finish from just inside the box to make it 3-0. A few minutes later he tapped in his hat trick when Sean Hurlburt’s long throw was allowed to bounce to him in the middle of the box.

Correia was aksed if this was a typical game for his center forward and he replied simply, “Yeah.”

He elaborated, “I think that’s 35 goals this season. He just has that extra gear that guys don’t have.”

Macaraco pointed to the goal as changing the way his team approached defending Beatty. He remarked, “Once we got down, you know, we had to push some numbers up top. We made a few mental mistakes and, with his blistering speed, he’s able to finish most of his chances.”

Silver Lake added a fifth in the final minutes when Brendan Nemes found space on the edge of the 18 and curled his shot into the top corner. It was an emphatic exclamation point on a dominating win for the Lakers.

It was also the final game in the New Bedford career of the talented Sousa, who drew praise from both coaches after the game. Macaraco reflected, “He’s a special player and he needs just an inch of space and with his ability he can get that inch and get that shot off. It’s been a pleasure being part of his four years at the high school.”

Silver Lake advances to the sectional final on Sunday at Taunton High at 5:30 p.m. to play the defending state champion Needham, which beat BC High 3-0 in the other semifinal.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:
  • While the Needham boys advanced to the sectional final with a solid win in a rematch with the Eagles, the Needham girls could not match the feat in the nightcap at Medway High. The Rockets were beaten 2-0 by defending champ Franklin, which returns to the sectional final. The Panthers got goals from Alexis Stowell and Taylor Cogliano in the first half to earn the victory. The D1 South final will feature the top two seeds, as Bishop Feehan scored in double overtime to end the amazing tournament run of Walpole. It was the first goal that the Rebels had given up in four playoff games.
  • In the D2 South boys’ semifinals, No. 2 seed Oliver Ames allowed a goal within the opening three minutes but then stormed back on a Dave Stapleton free kick and second half header by Gaston Cetrangolo to reach its first ever South final with a 2-1 win over Hingham. The Tigers will face No.13 seed Walpole, which beat Pembroke 2-0. Both of these teams competed in D1 last season. The girls’ final In D2, as it does in D1, will feature the top two seeds with No. 1 Scituate beating Sandwich 1-0 and No. 2 Notre Dame (Hingham) beating Dartmouth 3-2. Those finals will be played on Veterans Day at Braintree High.
  • There was another big upset on the girls’ side on Thursday. The top team in the state, Central Catholic, and the No. 4 team, Duxbury, were already eliminated and now the No. 3 team, Belchertown, is out as well. The Orioles were stunned in the D1 West sectional 1-0 by Pittsfield. The loss ends the remarkable careers of all-state twins Brittany and Breanne Moreau and puts Pittsfield back into the West sectional final for the second year in a row. Minnechaug will be the opponent after it beat East Longmeadow 2-1. There was also an upset on the boys’ side of D1 West with No. 2 seed Amherst beaten on penalties by West Springfield in the semifinal.
  • There will be a rematch in the D1 North boys’ final, as No. 1 seed Somerville beat Malden 3-0 and No. 3 seed St. John’s Prep knocked off Madison Park in double overtime. The Highlanders, led by forward Thayrone Miranda (you know, the guy who did this), will be looking to repeat as sectional champions. On the girls’ side, Newton North will face Acton-Boxborough. The North finals will be on Saturday at Manning Field in Lynn. Also on Saturday at Manning Field will be a top 10 showdown against unbeaten North Andover and perennial D2 power Concord-Carlisle, which will be one of the top games of the tournament. Not to be outdone, the D2 girls will feature a match-up of Beverly and ESPNBoston.com Miss Soccer candidate Caitlin Harty against Concord-Carlisle. Amazingly, those are not even the sectional finals; those are just the semis.
  • In the Central, the defending D1 champion Nashoba girls were eliminated by rival Algonuin. Last year, the Tomahawks lost only three games in the season, each of them against the Chieftains. Algonuin will face top seed Westborough in the final to be held at Wachusett. Westborough also has the top seed on the boys’ side and the Rangers advanced to the sectional final to face Wachusett, which knocked off two-time D2 state champion Groton-Dunstable (moved into D1 after the Central lost a Division 2). Wachusett will host the boys’ final. Like Westborough in D1, Sutton will have both the boys and girls in the finals in D4 after both were dropped down from D3.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 7

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
12:58
AM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 7 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)



THE CONTENDERS*

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 13 of 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns, in a 42-19 win over Milton.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Carried 24 times for 100 yards and a touchdown, in the Trojans' 20-14 loss to Barnstable.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' thrilling win over Bridgewater-Raynham, carried 14 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 43-yard TD run with less than a minute to go.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' 40-15 rout of Nashoba, completed 11 of 19 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and also had 50 yards rushing with a fourth score.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the Rockets' 33-6 win over Brookline.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Carried 19 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the Crusaders' 34-6 rout of St. Mary's of Lynn.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 6 of 6 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and added 91 rushing yards with two more scores, in the Pioneers' 34-9 win over Wachusett.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Was 5 of 11 passing for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing touchdown, in the Golden Eagles' 34-6 win over Putnam.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 12 of 27 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets' 20-7 win over King Philip.

Isaac Yiadom, Sr. WR/DB, Doherty
Boston College commit caught a touchdown pass and threw for another, in the Highlanders' 28-0 shutout of Worcester North.



FIVE ON THE RISE

Emmanuel Almonte, Jr. QB/DB, Boston English
Totaled 254 yards of offense (190 rushing, 64 passing) and three touchdowns in the Blue & Blue's 24-6 win over West Roxbury. Through six games he is one of the state's leading rushers (1,025 yards, 8 TD, 9.5 yards per carry), in directing a read-option attack; he's also the team's leader in tackles (43).

Shaquille Anderson, Sr. RB, Cambridge
Led the way for the Falcons with 219 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in their 34-20 win over Medford.

Dan Henrickson, Sr. WR, St. Peter-Marian
Totaled 123 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Guardians' 14-13 loss to Shepherd Hill.

Chris Lindstrom, Jr. OL/DL, Shepherd Hill
Leading a double-wing rushing attack that has accounted for 1,661 yards, 21 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry through six games, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound interior guard has been a road grader so far for the Rams.

Jack Sylvester, Sr. RB, Andover
Carried 14 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a 15-yard TD catch, in the Golden Warriors' 49-32 win over Rhode Island power La Salle Academy. In the last weeks, he's gained 402 yards with five touchdowns; on the season, he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.



TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 1,098 yards, 14 TD
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 1,084 yards, 12 TD
Emmanuel Almonte, Jr., Boston English – 1,025 yards, 8 TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 963 yards, 7 TD
Rufus Rushins, Jr., Bishop Fenwick – 957 yards, 15 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 662 yards, 10 TD
Nick Thyden, Sr., Quabbin – 643 yards, 9 TD
Jake Bradway, Sr., Belchertown – 638 yards, 7 TD
Dan Henrickson, Sr., St. Peter-Marian – 559 yards, 7 TD
Isaac Yiadom, Sr., Doherty – 534 yards, 3 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 2,070 yards, 21 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,617 yards, 26 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,543 yards, 18 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,499 yards, 19 TD
Andrew Smiley, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – 1,320 yards, 15 TD



*Does not include players who had a bye week


Silver Lake to No. 3 in boys' soccer poll

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
5:58
PM ET
New Bedford retains the top spot in our MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week ahead of Tuesday's clash with Big Three rival Brockton, which tied the Whalers in the first meeting. A pair of scoreless draws last week drops Needham down a couple of spots to No. 4 and Somerville moves back up to the two spot.

Silver Lake's impressive 5-1 win over St. John's Prep jumps them above Needham, while Masconomet moves to No. 3, but even with the loss, the Eagles stay in the Top 10 just ahead of their Catholic Conference rivals BC High (who Prep has beaten twice this season).

The Division 1 West sectional should be a battle with three teams in the Top 20, which based on the number of qualifiers from last season, means almost 40 percent of the sectional is ranked. Ludlow has been inconsistent but remains in the Top 10 closely followed by Belchertown with Amherst at No. 19. Central also has three teams, two from D1 and Sutton from D3,

Oliver Ames drops into the Last 10 Out after another draw in the Hockomock League, but watch out for the Tigers in D2 South. OA is replaced by Westborough, which enters the rankings for the second time this season at No. 18. The Rangers were the first team to beat Ludlow this season (at the time the Lions were no. 1) and are the only team to beat Wachusett this year.

There are two undefeated teams in the Last 10 Out, newly dropped Oliver Ames and EAC champion Martha's Vineyard.

This demonstrates how much parity exists as soccer continues to become more popular and the level of play increases across the state.

Just one more week until we're looking at playoff brackets and the excitement (and mohawks) are already growing.

For this week's full poll, click HERE.

Newton North makes jump in girls' soccer poll

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
12:00
PM ET
Central Catholic continues its run at the top of our statewide MIAA girls' soccer Top 20 poll after extending its perfect run to 12-0. The Raiders have allowed a preposterous one goal in 12 games this season, and that was way back on Sept. 9.

There was a lot of shake-up in the rankings this week after several big games between ranked teams on Saturday.

In one marquee match, Newton North shockingly beat up on Beverly and jumps into the No. 2 spot because of it. The 5-0 win was enough to allow the Tigers to move ahead of a Belchertown team that's similarly dominant out west. Nashoba also added a big victory over Lincoln-Sudbury, and the Chieftains, a perennial power in D1, move up into the Top 5.

Also jumping up into the Top 5 is Duxbury, which swept the season series with Whitman-Hanson and clinched its first Patriot League title since 2007. The Dragons beat Scituate, Whitman-Hanson, and Quincy in the past week and all without injured striker Emily Weimer, who has nearly 20 goals on the season.

Two teams dropped out of the rankings this week: Medfield and Needham. Both will be considered teams that no one wants to play in the tournament, but both have struggled to get victories in the last week.

Jumping into the Top 20 are Medway, which is near the top of the TVL, and Algonquin, which tied Nashoba on Tuesday.

The parity in the girls' game is impressive as a number of teams could be considered Top 20-caliber (i.e., Canton or North Attleborough from the Hockomock or Wilmington and Winchester of the Middlesex) and this should lead to a lot of excitement and more than a few upsets come tourney time.

For this week's complete Top 20 poll, click HERE.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 6

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
10:54
PM ET
Here is our latest "Mr. Football Watch" following Week 6 of the 2013 season. Statistics can be sent to editors Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) and/or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)

THE CONTENDERS

Troy Flutie, Sr. QB, Natick
Completed 15 of 22 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, in the Redhawks’ 42-10 win over Dedham.

Brandon Gallagher, Jr. RB, Bridgewater-Raynham
Ran for 232 yards and a score, and added a 70-yard touchdown reception, in a 27-7 win over Dartmouth.

Hayden Murphy, Sr. RB/WR, Barnstable
In the Red Raiders' 29-20 comeback win over Marshfield, carried 12 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, and caught two passes for 74 yards and another score.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. QB, Leominster
Accounted for a season-high 359 yards of offense (287 passing, 72 rushing) and two scores in the Blue Devils' 47-26 win over Doherty.

Dylan Oxsen, Sr. RB, Plymouth South
In the Panthers' 27-7 win over Nauset, carried a personal record 37 times for 243 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike Panepinto, Sr. RB, Needham
Carried 18 times for 132 yards and a score in the Rockets' 21-0 shutout of Braintree.

Rufus Rushins, Jr. RB, Bishop Fenwick
Ran for 80 yards and a score in the Crusaders' 48-18 rout of Austin Prep.

Andrew Smiley, Sr. RB, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Completed 19 of 33 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the Pioneers' upset loss to cross-town rival Shrewsbury.

Cody Williams, Sr. QB, Springfield Central
Completed 12 of 17 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the Golden Eagles’ 40-12 rout of Minnechaug.

Ju’an Williams, Sr. WR, Springfield Central
Caught five passes for 69 yards in the Eagles’ win over Minnechaug.

Kyle Wisnieski, Sr. QB, Mansfield
Completed 13 of 15 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ 47-8 rout of Taunton.

FIVE ON THE RISE

Matt Banchs, Sr. FB/LB, Leominster
In the Blue Devils' win over Doherty, recorded 22 tackles and two sacks, and also added 40 yards rushing with a score on offense. Banchs is slowly rising as one of the top defensive players in Central Mass.

Christian Carr, Jr. RB, Plymouth North
In the Eagles' 33-6 win over Falmouth, carried 35 times for 254 yards and four touchdowns, giving him over 700 yards rushing on the season.

Mike Maggipinto, Soph. RB, East Longmeadow
Carried 20 times for 259 yards and five touchdowns in the Spartans’ 40-34 win over Springfield Putnam. He currently leads all Western Mass. running backs in rushing touchdowns (13).

James Sullivan, Jr. RB/DB, Tewksbury
Collected three of the Redmen’s four interceptions, while adding 75 yards on nine carries with a touchdown on offense vs. Methuen.

Miguel Villar-Perez, Jr. RB, Mansfield
Caught three passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Hornets’ 47-8 win over Taunton. Through five games he has 575 yards of offense as a pass-catching running back, with eight touchdowns.

TOP STATISTICAL LEADERS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Rushing
Mark Wright, Sr., Auburn – 950 yards, 11 TD
Brooks Tyrrell, Jr., Marblehead – 931 yards, 9 total TD
Chris Ahl, Sr., Millis/Hopedale – 895 yards, 11 TD
Dylan Oxsen, Sr., Plymouth South – 852 yards, 14 total TD
Zered McCoy, Sr., Ware – 843 yards, 5 TD

Passing
Dylan Kierman, Sr., Quabbin – 1,680 yards, 17 TD
John Rumney, Sr., Marlborough – 1,372 yards, 17 TD
Troy Flutie, Sr., Natick – 1,360 yards, 22 TD
Matthew Jeye, Sr., Holliston – 1,298 yards, 13 TD
Ryan Barabe, Jr., Pope John Paul II – 1,255 yards, 14 TD

Receiving
Zach Elkinson, Jr., Holliston – 513 yards, 14 total TD
Jake Bradway, Jr., Belchertown – 489 yards, 7 TD
Brian Daly, Jr., Marblehead – 487 yards, 10 TD
T.J. Hairston, Jr., Watertown – 472 yards, 5 TD
Jack Galvin, Sr., Lowell – 438 yards, 8 TD

Central Catholic overtakes girls' soccer No. 1

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
6:12
PM ET
Central Catholic makes its first-ever appearance as the No. 1 team in our statewide MIAA girls' soccer Top 20 poll.

The void at the top occurred after Franklin was beaten, 2-1, by Canton on Monday. Meanwhile, Central Catholic has dominated all four teams it has faced this season and moves into the top spot.

Also, Belchertown jumps to No. 2 behind the Moreau twins, who are potential All-New England, if not All-American players.

Franklin lost its 26-game unbeaten streak and falls to No. 6.

To see this week's complete ESPN Boston Top 20 poll, click HERE.

In This Week: Newton North (No. 15), Minnechaug (No. 17).

Out This Week: Marshfield (No. 18), Winchester (No. 12).

Somerville remains atop boys' soccer Top 20

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
11:29
AM ET
No. 1 Somerville boys' soccer opened the season with a 3-1 win over Brockton and stays atop the ESPN Boston MIAA Top 20 poll for the second week in a row.

New Bedford is close behind after a perfect 3-0 start. This week also featured the first Top 10 match-up as Masconomet and St. John's Prep drew, 1-1, in Danvers. Max Craig had the equalizer for Masco; he is a former Prep player, who transferred back for his junior year.

There were a few upsets of note in the opening week as No. 7 Concord-Carlisle drops six places after a loss to Cambridge and Nauset drops out of the Top 20 after defeats to Martha's Vineyard and No. 2 New Bedford. Dartmouth also suffered a tough loss to unranked Brockton in a rivalry game, but rebounded with a big victory over Falmouth.

Belchertown, which moved to Division 1 in the West sectional this year, beat No. 5 Amherst in the season opener and moves into the top 20 for the first time in the history of the poll. The win over the Hurricanes was the marquee victory that the Orioles needed to show that they are ready to make the jump from D3 to D1. Belchertown joins the Hurricanes and perennial power Ludlow to make it three teams from the West in our top 12.

There is a lot of parity around the state and many teams have only played one or two games, so there will most likely be a lot of movement in the rankings as teams manage difficult league campaigns. As the first week has shown, this is going to be a very interesting season.

In This Week: No. 12 Belchertown (3-0), first time in the rankings.

Out This Week: No. 14 Nauset (1-2), in Last 10 Out.

Four MIAA soccer storylines to watch

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
4:29
PM ET
With MIAA soccer matches kicking off this week, here are four storylines to watch for the new season:

1. Realignment changes dynamic of postseason.

The MIAA realigns this season and a number of teams will be competing in different divisions this year. The biggest change is that Division 2 now only exists in Eastern Mass. This means a shift for several teams out West, including Belchertown, which now has its girls playing in Div. 1 while the boys are expected to dominate in Div. 3. Two-time defending D2 state champion Groton-Dunstable also faces a jump up to D1 in Central Mass.

In the boys’ South sectionals, these changes have suddenly created a D2 tournament that will be as difficult as just about any sectional in the state. Division 1 South semifinalists Dartmouth and Oliver Ames, along with fellow playoff teams Nauset, Walpole, and Catholic Memorial will all be dropped down. The teams combined for seven wins in the 2012 D1 playoffs and, when added to D2 mainstays like Canton, Medfield, and Hingham, will provide a deep bracket filled with potential state champs. One team not included in that list is last season’s D2 South winner, Medway, which will now compete for the D3 title.

All of the movement will add some spice come October and November as many of the teams (for example the Dedham girls, who have been moved to D3) compete in leagues with teams in higher division or schedule those opponents to prepare for the playoffs.

2. What happens when the face of the program leaves?

The Needham boys will be without their all-time leading scorer, Mac Steeves, this season and on the girls’ side there are a number of programs that have lost not only good players, but among their best ever.

Franklin’s Kristi Kirshe, Peabody’s Hayley Dowd, Oliver Ames’ Kendall Andrew, Canton’s Lauren Berman, Nashoba’s Kim Slade, and Concord-Carlisle’s Andrea O’Brien are just a few of the graduates that have left question marks around entire programs. (Apologies to anyone not mentioned - it’s a very big list.)

Many of these teams are familiar faces in the rankings and will find a way to be successful even without the big name (Franklin for instance is still considered the team to beat in D1), but that is an amazing amount of talent moving on and it has changed the whole perspective on how successful these teams can be. It has opened the door for new league and sectional champions.

In many cases these players were not only the best player and the talent that produced wins on the field, but also the foundation on which the team formulated its game plan. Now, coaches may have to adjust to lesser talents that are not able to decide games on their own and players will have to step up and take responsibility where before they could simply pass to the star. It’s a challenge that will be interesting to watch this season.

3. A true rivalry out West.

Ludlow, boasting 17 state titles, has long been the dominant force in the West region, but last year Amherst earned its first ever sectional title and showed that it could compete with the best. This season, Ludlow is considered the team to beat but, with seniors Brandon Vazquez and Eric Gooden, Amherst believes that it has closed the gap. Both teams are ranked in the preseason Top 10 and now there are two teams that people out East have to ask about at the start of every year.

If the fans of Belchertown had their way, there would be a third team to add to the rivalry. The Orioles put up numbers last year that would make Barcelona jealous, but it is hard to determine the caliber of teams that they are competing against. With the drop into D3 this season, the gap between Belchertown and the top teams in the West is even larger, making it even more difficult to rate them.

4. Mr. Soccer and Miss Soccer races heat up.

Going into the season, there are a number of players to watch out for and the race for the second annual ESPNBoston.com Mr. and Miss Soccer awards (won last year by Mac Steeves of Needham and Kristi Kirshe of Franklin) has the potential to be very close.

Here are preliminary lists of some of the male and female players to watch heading into 2013:

Boys – Thayrone Miranda (Sr., F, Somerville); Dave Stapleton (Sr., M/F, Oliver Ames); Klisman Souza (Sr., M, New Bedford); Brandon Vazquez (Sr., M, Amherst); Noah Martins (Sr., M, Dartmouth); Aram Ouligian (Jr., D/M, Needham); Michael Dushman (Sr., M, Bedford); Paul Beatty (Sr., F, Silver Lake); Bobby Ivatts (Jr., M, Walpole); Lucas Resende-Verge (Sr., K, Weymouth).

Girls – Caitlin Harty (Sr., F, Beverly); Taylor Cogliano (Jr., F, Franklin); Kate Holleran (Sr., M, Oliver Ames); Lauren Petit (Sr., M, Medfield); Kayla Steeves (Jr., M, Needham); Breanne Moreau (Sr., M, Belchertown); Brooke Murphy (Sr., F, Monson); Maddie Jolin (Jr., F, Bishop Feehan); Alexis Fruzetti (So., F, Whitman-Hanson).


WORCESTER, Mass. – It was a perfect finish in more ways than one.

Tied 6-6 heading into the fourth quarter of Friday’s Division 2 state championship boys’ lacrosse game, West sectional champion Longmeadow had to hunker down against Eastern Mass. champion Medfield. The Lancers, who’d beaten the Warriors by 15 goals during the teams’ regular season meeting, knew they were going to see a different Medfield team and had gotten exactly what they expected – a tight game.

That’s when Keegan Dudeck made a lasting impression.

Already netting a hat trick in the first half alone, the Lancers senior midfielder started the fourth quarter with back-to-back goals, setting in motion a string of three straight Longmeadow goals in its 10-7 victory over Medfield at Foley Stadium.

The Lancers finish the season with a perfect 25-0 record while delivering their first state title since the 2008 season.

“Whey that they weren’t going to make it a 16-1 game again,” Dudeck said, recalling the Lancers’ drubbing of the Warriors in May. “Before the game, we told the team not to be too overconfident and make sure that weren’t not too cocky because this team was going to come out and they wanted it as bad as we wanted it.”

Truer to the capabilities of both sides, the teams spent the better part of three quarters exchanging the lead or tied. It wasn’t until Dudeck’s fifth goal of the game, scored at 8:38 of the fourth, that either team established a lead of more than one goal. Soon after Drew Kelleher provided the Lancers with a three-goal lead and they wouldn’t look back.

“If teams go on a three- or four-goal run on us, we’re usually able to punch back, but we weren’t able to, Warriors head coach John Isaf said. “We thought we were right where we wanted to be entering the fourth quarter. We’ve always pulled out games in the fourth quarter this year. That was the plan, it just didn’t happen.”

Putting a painful loss in the back mirror, Medfield (22-4) jumped out to a lead 1:43 into play with senior captain Andrew Melvin (1 G, 1 A) hitting the cutting Tyler Hagan. And while the Warriors put forward a much-improved offensive showing the second time around, including two-goal games from Matt Crowell and Thomas Sears, the Lancers’ finishing touch proved too much.

Despite being held without a goal in the third quarter, the Lancers rode the momentum gained by Dudeck’s early fourth-quarter strikes.

It was simply a performance fitting of one of the state’s top talents this year.

“He’s been fighting through an injury for the last two, three weeks,” Lancers head coach Ryan Liebel said. “He’s fought through it. He tries to get open, he’s our hardest worker and one of the best players on our team. When it came down to it, he was able to get that ball and put it in the net.”

“Dudeck was phenomenal off-ball. He was moving, he was cutting, he was shifty.”

In short, he did a little bit of everything that meant a whole lot.

RETURN TO THE BIG STAGE
The Western Mass. powerhouse turned in its first championship in five year under the direction of a first-year head coach. Liebel, a Longmeadow alumnus who previously coached at Belchertown, is no stranger to the program.

But perhaps things came together quicker than anyone could have anticipated. With only four seniors on the roster this year, the Lancers had to rely on consistent contributions from its underclassmen.

“They stepped up huge for us today,” said senior Kevin Barry, who led the Lancers in goals during the regular season, “especially our midfielders, they’re young. Our attacks are freshmen and juniors and they played amazing.”

While Friday marks the crowning achievement for Barry, Dudeck and their fellow graduates Eric Barsalou and Noah Gurzenski, don’t write off the Lancers bid at a repeat performance in 2014.

A LESSER VICTORY
While Medfield ultimately struck out on the title bid, the Eastern champions went down swinging.

After Friday night’s game, Isaf recalled the somber ride from Longmeadow back home on May 12, his team trying to come to terms with what had just unfolded.

“I think everybody had to reflect and decide what we were going to about it,” he said.

The resolve was clear. Following the 15-goal loss to Longmeadow, Medfield finished the regular season with four straight wins, including one against Division 1 power St. John’s Prep. Entering Friday’s action and including the postseason, the Warriors had built a nine-game winning streak, falling just one quarter shy of their ultimate goal.

That’s a point that wasn’t lost on their coach.

“From that point forward, we played our best lacrosse of the season,” Isaf said. “And tonight, we wanted to show them that wasn’t us back in May. I’m really proud of this team how they rallied and rebounded from that.”

 

D3 softbal semi: Assabet Valley 3, Mt. Everett 1

June, 13, 2013
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AMHERST, Mass. -- Mount Everett was feeling it. After putting together six solid innings of shutout ball, and leading 1-0, the Eagles entered the seventh and final inning of Wednesday’s Division 3 state semifinal a bit giddy knowing they stood on the cusp of earning their first state final appearance in school history.
With their junior hard-throwing pitcher Alicia Bazonski tossing zeros on the scoreboard, conditions seemed ideal for this Berkshire-based school to continue in its history-making quest.


Not so fast.


Central Mass. champ Assabet Valley, who were virtually non-existent at the plate over the first six frames showed some much-needed life in the seventh. The Aztecs were able to push across the tying run in the frame and then added two more in the eighth to claim an improbable 3-1 triumph at UMass.


What the Eagles failed to accomplish in their inability to tack on a couple of more runs during regulation would prove to be their demise. Assabet, a team noted for scratching and clawing until the final out, stuck to the script and the end result is an opportunity to bring home its first state championship. The Aztecs will face St. Mary’s of Lynn for the title on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. from Worcester State University’s Rockwood Field. The Eastern Mass. champs won back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.


Needing any kind of lift, the Aztecs finally got one in the seventh. Senior Morgan Parmeter led things off by stroking a single to right. After stealing second, Parmeter took third on a Jen Casavant ground out. With Mount Everett’s infield drawn in an attempt to keep Parmeter at third on any ground ball, sophomore Maddie Parmeter, Morgan’s younger sister, ripped a hard single to right to knot game at 1-1.


“Nobody on this team wants to go home," Maddie Parmeter said. “Especially our seniors who didn’t want this to be their last game. I knew my sister was on third base and I wanted to get her home, so I just hit the ball as hard as I could. I think they were expecting bunt so I just pulled back and hit it and was able to get it past them."


Assabet’s dugout, which resembled a morgue over the first six innings, suddenly rose to life. The following inning, the Aztecs stuck the dagger in the backs of the Eagles. With two out, Brittney Lutz reached on an infield single but never stopped running. The senior ended up beating the throw to second putting the go-ahead runner into scoring position.


Lutz later revealed that she thought the ball had gotten away from first baseman Natasha MacLeay and kept on running. MacLeay, after receiving the throw from shortstop Emily Coon, hesitated long enough to allow Lutz to slide into second safely.


A bit discombobulated over the previous events, Bazonski tossed a wild pitch which allowed Lutz to easily take third. Morgan Parmeter next lined a solid single to right to put Assabet ahead. Casavant followed by ripping a hard grounder off the glove of third baseman Sam Hoover and into left field which resulted in a double and plating Parmeter with an insurance run.


In the bottom half of the eighth, Maddie Parmeter (CG, 4 hits, 5 Ks) set the Eagles down in order giving the Aztecs (20-4) their first crack to win a state crown in any sport in school history.


Having last reached the semifinal round back in 1990 when it lost to Hopedale, Mount Everett (21-2) claimed a one-run lead in their half of the third. A one-out double by Brooke Morehouse was proceeded by Chandler DeGrenier’s RBI single.


“Give Assabet the credit because they stayed with it," Eagles coach Kurt DeGrenier said. “They put the ball in play against Alicia [Bazonski] and were taking choppy swings and hitting line drives. We held them off for six innings and then they got us. I’m proud of our girls because they had a great season but today you have to give their pitcher a lot of credit. She wasn’t throwing very hard but was keeping us off-balanced. We didn’t put the ball in play very hard at all against her."


The way Bazonski was hurling, it appeared as though one run might be enough. Bazonski surrendered seven hits and struck out seven.


“That girl is a great pitcher,” Assabet coach Mike O’Brien said. “She spotted the ball well on the outside corners and throws in the lower 60s consistently. For some reason our girls never got down. We were down 1-0 going into the seventh and anyone could’ve folded at that point in time. But the character and integrity of this team is don’t stop fighting until the very last out is recorded. We started to get to (Bazonski) a little late but she’s a real competitor and I give their coaching staff a lot of credit too.”


Wahconah Regional 10, Belchertown 0
Chloe Warren, Gabrielle Lavino, Liz King and Rachel Brennan all had two hits to lead the second-seeded Warriors to a 10-0 thumping of Belchertown in the Western Mass. Division 2 final. Warren also drove in a pair.


The Warriors (21-2) scored five runs in the first inning and added five more in the fifth to put this one away. It also marked Wahconah's 21st straight victory after starting the season 0-2. The Warriors face Central Mass. and defending state champion Grafton here on Thursday in the state semifinal beginning at 3 p.m. The top-seeded Orioles complete their season at 19-5.
SHREWSBURY, Mass. – When chasing the brass ring of a perfect season, a team needs to hold itself to a higher standard.

Case and point was No. 6 Longmeadow’s 10-8 win over No. 7 St. John’s of Shrewsbury at Pioneer Field on Wednesday. The Lancers remained undefeated, moving to 17-0, but in the postgame, first-year head coach Ryan Liebel was more apt to point to the things his team didn’t do.

“The game was pretty ugly off the bat,” Liebel commented on the nearly instant 3-0 hole Longmeadow dug in the first quarter.

However, the finish is what counts most and the Lancers got the better of the fourth quarter, scoring a string of three goals to round out a two-goal victory.

Senior midfield Eric Barsalou tallied a hat trick while fellow middie Keegan Dudeck tallied the game-winning goal with less than six minutes to play.

“Ball possession was obviously huge and we took advantage of that,” Leibel said.

That advantage was due in no small part to junior midfielder Drew Kelleher, who reached double-digits in the ground ball battle. Also, Longmeadow owned the faceoff X in the second half, winning more than 60 percent of those draws.

“They dominated the faceoffs, it was at least two-to-one, if not more,” St. John’s head coach Terry Leary said. “I think all those extra possessions hurt us.”

The teams went into the half tied, 4-4, before the Lancers again seized the lead with two quick goals to start the third from Barsalou and Max Chipouras. But the back-and-forth continued through the second half. With five lead changes occurring in the game, the Pioneers (11-3) held a lead as late as the 9:55 mark of the fourth quarter, with Kevin Butler’s third goal of the game.

The Lancers again came back to make it a tie game just 34 seconds later on Barsalou’s third before taking the lead for good on Dudeck’s game-winner.

LIFE IN THE MIDDLE

While the tightly contested battle was indicative of what you’d expect from two of the top Division 2 programs in the state this season, and although the Pioneers fell short, there was plenty for St. John’s to take away from Wednesday’s performance.

The biggest positive that Leary saw from his team was offensive production from midfield — namely Butler’s hat trick.

“We have three very dangerous attackmen in [Andrew] Smiley, [Josh] Freilich and [Hunter] Burdick, and typically a majority of our scoring comes from them,” Leary said. “But if teams are collapsing on them, we’ve been working all year to get more and more middie production.”

With both teams heading down the home stretch of their regular-season schedules, there’s reason to believe they could meet again in the not too distant future, in a potential Div. 2 Central/West championship game matchup.

Neither side believed they played their best game under Wednesday’s soggy conditions, but they’ve separated from the pack. Further proof came in Longmeadow’s 16-1 dismantling of Eastern Mass. power Medfield last weekend.

For the first-year Lancers head coach, he’s just enjoying the ride for now. Liebel, a Longmeadow alumnus who played for the program and former head coach at Belchertown, couldn’t ask for a better group that – when it’s all said and done – might be historically good.

“It’s a talented group of players,” he said. “It makes coaching a lot of fun.”

Franklin finishes No. 1 in girls' soccer poll

December, 5, 2012
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There can be little question over the top two teams in the final 2012 girls' soccer Top 20 poll.

The Division 1 and 2 state champions, Franklin and Medfield, proved their worth over the course of undefeated seasons capped by victories over Top 5 teams in the state finals. A combined record of 43-0-4 speaks for itself.

The two defeated finalists, Nashoba and Belchertown, also proved they belonged in the top five. Both teams were unbeaten going into the finals.

Two of the biggest upsets in the tournament ended the season for top seeds East Longmeadow and Peabody. Both teams dropped in the rankings after seeing their seasons end abruptly. Oliver Ames and Duxbury were the big movers up the rankings after impressive runs to their respective sectional finals.

Two teams were added to the rankings after tournament win streaks that caught just about everyone by surprise.

Beverly made it all the way to the state semifinal behind striker Caitlin Harty and goalkeeper Casey Cook. The Panthers won the incredibly deep D1 North sectional, which few (if anyone) had predicted.

Weston's run to the D3 state title is even more amazing as it was the 17th seed in D3 North and romped its was through the sectional. The only goal it gave up in the postseason was in the opening round against the 16th seed Georgetown. Weston outscored its next four opponents 19-0. A 1-0 win over Sutton in the finals meant that Weston had to be included in the rankings.

Mr. and Miss Soccer finalists announced

November, 20, 2012
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For the first time in site history, we're pleased to announce that ESPN Boston will honor the top boys' and girls' MIAA soccer player with its first-ever Mr. and Miss Soccer Awards this year.

The winners will be announced on Monday, Dec. 3, but we've whittled down our lists to a final five candidates today.

Without further ado:

MR. SOCCER FINALISTS:
Felix DeBona, Sr. F, Somerville
- The D1 North champions were led by DeBona's 29 goals, including the lone goal against St. John's Prep that clinched the sectional title. DeBona's scoring propelled the Highlanders to 15th in the NSCAA national rankings, a Greater Boston League title, and an undefeated regular season.

Dave MacKinnon, Sr. GK, Oliver Ames - MacKinnon was named an All-American for his commanding play in net for the Davenport division champions. He gave up only four goals during the regular season with 13 shutouts and was named the Hockomock League MVP. In the playoffs, MacKinnon's save during the shootout helped the Tigers beat league rival Franklin in the opening round.

Nate Pomeroy, Sr. F, Groton-Dunstable - Pomeroy, who is bound for Brown University next season, notched two goals in the D2 state finals to clinch back-to-back titles for the Crusaders. Pomeroy was named to the All-New England team and named Mid-Wach B MVP this season. He had eight goals in the 2012 postseason run.

Cody Savonen, Sr. F, Nauset - Savonen led Nauset to the D1 South sectional quarterfinals and eclipsed the 20-goal mark for the season. He had a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Plymouth South that wrapped up the third Atlantic Coast League title of his career and scored the winner in the opening playoff game against Wellesley.

[+] EnlargeMac Steeve
Courtesy of Josh PerryNeedham senior captain Mac Steeve led the Rockets to a Division I state title and is a finalist for our inaugural Mr. Soccer Award.
Mac Steeves, Sr. F, Needham - The Rockets all-time leading scorer was named an All-American this season and led Needham to the Division 1 state title. Steeves also showed his ability to step up in big games. He scored both goals (and drew the penalty for the second) against Somerville in the state semifinals and scored the winning goal in the state finals against Amherst.

Honorable Mentions: Osla DeBrito (New Bedford), Mike Lynch (Weymouth), Thayrone Miranda (Somerville), Brandon Miskin (Needham), Ryan Rose (Acton-Boxborough), Justin Rothemich (Sutton), Zach Scafati (Franklin), Stowe Simonton (Concord-Carlisle), Dave Stapleton (Oliver Ames), Brandon Vazquez (Amherst).

MISS SOCCER FINALISTS:
Lauren Berman, Sr. F, Canton - With over 40 goals this season, Berman was the standout player for the Davenport division champions and a Hockomock League All-Star. Berman's accomplishments earned her All-American status and she will be playing in the ACC for the University of Maryland next season. She finished her career with over 130 goals.

Kristi Kirshe Sr. F, Franklin - Kirshe eclipsed the 100-goal plateau for her career during the D1 playoffs. She scored in the state semifinal and scored both goals to lead the Panthers to the program's first-ever state title.She is an All-American as well as the state MVP. Compiling more than 30 goals this season, Kirshe helped a young Franklin team to an undefeated season.

Jen Narlee, Sr. M, Medfield - Narlee is the leader of a very strong defensive unit for the D2 state champions. A physical presence in the center of the field, Narlee does many of the little things that do not get on the scoresheet. Many of the Warriors' opponents saw their attacks snuffed out by Narlee's positional play. That strong defense has helped Medfield win two of the past three state titles.

Andrea O'Brien, Sr. F, Concord-Carlisle - O'Brien finished her career with over 100 goals and will take her talents to Boston College next year. An All-New England selection and submitted for All-American consideration, O'Brien helped lead the Patriots to a Dual County League title and to the second round of the tournament.

Kimberly Slade, Sr. F, Nashoba - Slade is one of the brightest stars in the Central region. The senior forward was an All-New England selection and her playmaking ability helped lead the Chieftains to a sectional title and trip to the state championship game, where she scored the team's only goal.

Honorable Mentions: Kendall Andrew (Oliver Ames), Mimi Borkan (Medfield), Jillian Cavanaugh (Belchertown), Taylor Cogliano (Franklin), Laura Courtney (Nashoba), Hayley Dowd (Peabody), Caitlin Harty (Beverly), Maddie Jolin (Bishop Feehan), Alexa Poulin (Central Catholic), Kayla Steeves (Needham).

D2 girls soccer: Medfield 3, Belchertown 1

November, 17, 2012
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Medfields, Cami McCurdyBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comCami McCurdy capped a fine postseason with two goals in the Medfield Warriors' state final win over Belchertown.
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Following the loss to Canton in the 2011 South sectional semifinals, Medfield head coach Mike La Francesca and the Class of 2013 made a commitment to get the program back to the state championship.

Lots of teams make similar pledges; few have the talent to make it a reality.

On Saturday afternoon at Worcester State, the Warriors (21-0-3) fulfilled their pledge with a 3-1 victory over the Belchertown Orioles (20-1-2) to win their second Division 2 state title in three years.

“I’m just so proud of them, there are no words," La Francesca said. "They set the goals a year ago that they wanted to be here tonight on November 17th and that’s what they did. This team believed in themselves and they believed in their team.”

Senior midfielder Jen Narlee was thrilled at the opportunity to fulfill the team’s preseason expectations and to finish her career with a victory.

“We’ve been waiting for it since last year when we didn’t get it and we were so disappointed," she said. "We have the most heart that I’ve ever seen a team have and that made the difference. I’m going to miss this program so much.”

Junior forward Cami McCurdy wrapped up a stellar playoff run with a brace in the finals.

The opening goal came in the 15th minute, against the run of play, as McCurdy took a pass from Krista Pinciaro, touched it onto her right foot, and slotted it home at the far post. McCurdy’s second goal came in the dying minutes and clinched the title for Medfield.

According to the striker, who was only a spectator at the 2010 finals, the only thing on her mind as she rounded the keeper was winning the championship for the seniors.

“I thought about the seniors on my team and I realized that if I made that goal that meant it was over and I had to play for them, not me," she said. "In the back of my mind, I knew I had to stay composed and play for them.”




The game-winning goal was scored by Pinciaro, who scored directly from an in-swinging corner kick in the 26th minute. The defense has been the story for Medfield all season, but with eight goals in the final two rounds La Francesca was able to count on a powerful attack as well.

“Cami has, I believe she had five goals in the playoffs, and then you have Katelyn Murray who has not only been distributing but putting the ball into the net," he said. "And Pinciaro today with the goal and the assist, I mean, a great forward line up there.”
This was by no means a blowout.

Although trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Orioles were the team that controlled possession and continually pressured the Medfield without creating clear-cut chances. Belchertown got on the board seven minutes after the break on a powerful header by Jillian Cavanaugh on a long free kick by defender Jillian Lund.

The combination nearly hooked up again just moments later, but Cavanaugh’s header flashed inches wide of the far post. Despite continuing to pressure, the Orioles could not find an equalizer.

Then, on a quick counter, McCurdy finished on the break to ensure that the state title belonged to the Warriors.



“I think in the last few games it comes down to a mental thing more than if you have skill,” explained Narlee. “That’s what we prepare for. We just were ready; we were ready to win this.”

La Francesca noted that many teams are ready to win, but the players have to get on the pitch and perform. The Warriors did exactly that.

“We did expect to win, but, at the end of the day, you have to play the game, you have to win the game, and you have to make it happen," he said. "And they did.”

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