Boston High School: Cody Baglow

D1 boys soccer: Needham 1, Amherst 0

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
11:07
PM ET
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Steeves family has a history with Worcester State University's Coughlin Field.

While he was a player for Needham, Jay Steeves, who currently serves as an assistant coach with the Rockets, lost a state final in the dying seconds on that very pitch.

On Friday night, his son Mac wrote a new history for himself and the Rockets.

Mac Steeves scored a stunning late goal to lift the Rockets (21-1-3) to a 1-0 victory over Amherst (12-3-5) and clinched the program’s fourth state title in its seventh championship game appearance.

In the process, Steeves cemented his legacy as the best soccer player in the long and proud history of Needham High.

Head coach Don Brock -- who is not only the soccer program’s only coach, but also its founder -- knew that Steeves would be able to come through for the team in the big game.

“To get the winning goal is pretty special," Brock said. "He’s been playing hurt. We got so beat up from the South (sectional) I’m surprised he played as well as he did, but he came through. He’s done it all year long.”

Following the game, a bruised and battered Steeves reflected on an amazing four year run at Needham High.

“It means a whole lot," he said. "I’m at a loss for words...I’m so excited right now. It’s a dream come true really. It’s amazing.”

The goal came with only 11 minutes remaining. Senior captain Will Corkery played a long ball over the top and Steeves raced alongside the last defender. With goalkeeper Curtis Barnes bearing down on him, Steeves lifted a high chip into the box that bounced once before ending up in the back of the net.

It was an instinctive play all-around. Steeves, who was injured in the collision with Barnes but returned to the game, could not describe the play in detail, but Corkery explained that it developed from years of playing togther.

“We’ve played with each other since fourth grade so we have great chemistry and that obviously showed there," Corkery said. "I didn’t even hear him yell, I just knew he’d be there.”

Despite Needham taking a late lead, Amherst continued to battle and with mere seconds remaining had another chance for Cody Baglow to get in another long flip-throw. The ball bounced of Rockets, Hurricanes, the referee, and then sat in the Needham penalty area for what felt like minutes before finally being cleared away.

As soon as the ball was rifled down field, the ref blew three short bursts and one long, shrill whistle sending the Needham bench and the huge contingent of Rockets fans storming onto the field.

Although the game ended in defeat, there was a lot of positives for head coach Mike Rudd and the rest of the Hurricanes to take from the game.

“I was very proud of the boys tonight," Rudd said. "We played a great Needham team, certainly the best team we’ve seen this season. We stuck around, we played hard, tried to play with purpose, tried to possess, but we played a very good opponent.”

The game was played at a high pace, but both teams struggled to create chances. In fact, both keepers finished with one save apiece.

Amherst had chances at the midway point of the second half to break the deadlock. First, on a curling shot from Eric Gooden and then just minutes later on a through ball that squirted away from Needham keeper Kevin MacMillan before being covered up.

Steeves had several chances for Needham before finally putting away the goal. In the final 20 minutes, he eluded two defenders and sent a cross straight through the box that no one could get on the end of and in the 28th minute received a pass from Brandon Miskin but flashed his shot wide of the far post.

Rudd, in his first year as Amherst head coach, led the Hurricanes to their first-ever West sectional title and upended perennial power Ludlow in the process. He hopes this will be a building block for the program.

“I did expect to be right here," he said. "Now that we have climbed that mountain of Ludlow, maybe we will be back here more often in the future.”

For Mac Steeves, and the rest of the nine seniors on the roster, this is the perfect ending to a remarkable four-year career. According to Brock, “It’s been a long stretch between...been 10 or so years since the last time we’ve been here. It’s just such a great group of kids. They work so hard."

Boys' soccer: Amherst 1, Leominster 0

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
4:09
AM ET


BOLTON, Mass. -- In the traditional sense, something had to give.

In Wednesday’s boys’ soccer Division 1 state semifinal between Amherst and Leominster, a mix of history and destiny were in question. The Hurricanes had never been there, running past traditional West power and defending state champion Ludlow to claim their first-ever sectional title. Their opponent, the Blue Devils, rode into the postseason by slimmest of margins with a 5-4-7 record entering action and were a surprise winner of the Central sectional as a No. 12 seed.

While Amherst at times looked the stronger side on the pitch, play remained scoreless through the 56th minute when junior midfielder Brandon Vazquez broke the stalemate and booted the Hurricanes to their first state final with a 1-0 win over the Blue Devils.

Meanwhile, the Amherst back line made it stand up in front of goalkeeper Curtis Barnes (5 saves) while earning the shutout.

“I think after the win against Ludlow, it really boosted our confidence,” Vazquez said. “We came out strong today and we got the job done.”

The Hurricanes (14-2-5) came out firing, but Leominster stayed in the early action behind senior keeper Rondinelle DePaula.

The teams went to the half scoreless, but Amherst continued attacking the Blue Devils’ head-on in the second.

“We didn’t make any formation changes, we just knew we had to play harder and don’t let up, that’s what we did,” Vazquez said.

Amherst finally broke through in the 56th minute with Vazquez breaking a double-team and streaking down the center of the field and into the box. The feed from Erik Schleeweis was met with a subtle tap into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“I saw an open gap approaching on the right when I came closer and I knew it was good for me to make it through,” Vazquez said. “Then, when I saw the keeper come out, I just slid it past him.”

Leominster pushed the pace in the final 15 minutes, but failed to must many quality scoring chances; they were out-chanced in the match by a 3-to-1 ratio.

The Hurricanes weathered the storm, led by senior captain and center back Cody Baglow, leaving the rest to be scooped up by Barnes.

“As usual, it was incredible,” Barnes said of the defensive play in front of his net. “I couldn’t ask for a better back line. They save me from doing more work than I have to and it’s certainly a pleasure to have such a back line.”

Amherst advances to face Eastern Mass. champion Needham, which claimed a 2-1 win over North champion Somerville. The Hurricanes and Rockets will face off Friday at Worcester State College in a 7:30 p.m. start for the state title.

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