Boston High School: George Scarpelli

D1 boys' final: West Springfield 0, Somerville 0 (4-3 PKs)

November, 16, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. – West Springfield claimed the Division 1 state championship 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless draw against Somerville on Friday night at John Coughlin Field on the campus of Worcester State University.

The game was so tight and tense that even five rounds of penalty kicks were not enough to decide a winner. It took until the seventh round of shooters, and more twists and turns than in 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, to decide a state champ.

West Side (17-3-3) had two opportunities to win the game in the shootout, but in the fifth round Somerville keeper made a clutch save to keep the Highlanders alive and in the sixth round the penalty sailed over the bar.

In the seventh round, up stepped senior defender James Kukharchuk. The unlikely hero, who was one of several West Side defenders that helped slow down the powerful Highlanders attack, fired his penalty and found the back of the net to spark wild celebrations from his teammates and the large Terriers crowd on the far side of the field.

Kukharchuk remarked, “I was shivering back there. I was cold and I was like, ‘Shoot…I don’t know if I can do it.’ I wasn’t sure if we had won…We did.”

Head coach Nick Gumlaw was confident that his team, which advanced to the sectional final on penalties, would have the edge if it went to a shootout.

He said, “I told them at halftime to just forget about the first half to move on and play with intensity and win balls in the air. We did it and we ended up winning in a shootout. We feel comfortable in a shootout; we have one of the best goalies in the state.”

Senior forward Thayrone Miranda did not participate in the penalty shootout for Somerville, but head coach George Scarpelli explained that it was the result of his off-season knee surgery from which Miranda has not yet fully recovered.

“People don’t realize that Thayrone’s not even at 60 percent,” said Scarpelli. “He has a tough time planting unless he’s at a full gallop. He can’t sit and plant to shoot; he can’t get that power.”

He continued, “We practice [penalties] every day and those are the guys that put them away, unfortunately it’s a little different when you’re out here playing for a state championship. It’s tough to ask a 16-year-old kid to do that.”

The Highlanders (21-2-1) jumped out to quick start to the game with a pair of shots that went narrowly wide in the opening four minutes. Miranda looked menacing along with fellow forwards Julio Salguero and Marcelo Brociner but, despite the control of possession, Somerville had a hard time creating open looks and clear-cut scoring opportunities.

Senior goalie Alex Kraver came in for special praise from his coach. Gumlaw remarked, “We see it from him all the time. He’s one of the hardest working kids. This whole senior group deserves it and to see them go out on top is huge.”

The second half continued the pattern of Somerville keeping the ball but having attack after attack crash against the West Side defense. The best chance of the second half came on a long ball forward that Kraver punched clear over the top of Joao Baptista and then the keeper recovered to save a shot by Salguero.

In the first overtime, West Springfield midfielder Matt Kolb saved the Terriers when he was able to clear a Salguero shot off the line that seemed destined for the bottom corner. In the second overtime, it was defender Mike Orlando that made a game-saving block when Salguero’s diagonal pass picked out Miranda in the box.

That type of defensive work epitomized the spirit of the West Side team under the pressure of the Somerville attack.

“Yesterday at practice we kind of mimicked what they would do,” said Gumlaw. “I think Alec [Rising], Jackson [Tansey], and [Mike] Orlando stepped up huge. They had big games for us.”

Kukharchuk added, “We shut down their main forwards. We saw that the left back always did the long ball to us, so we just watched out for that and marked up when they played the long ball.”

After taking the next step of advancing past the state semifinal stage, which the Highlanders reached in 2012, it was a difficult way to go out for the Somerville players.

Scarpelli reflected, “That’s what happens. That’s why you play state tournament games. You wait for someone to put one in or for a bounce, you know. That’s how it ends…I’m proud of them; they’re good kids.”

D1 EMass Final: Somerville 2, Silver Lake 1

November, 13, 2013
TAUNTON, Mass. – There always seems to be one more chance. A team trailing by a goal late in an important match inevitably gets one more attempt at the tying goal.

In Tuesday night’s Division 1 state semifinal at Taunton High, the chance fell to Silver Lake sophomore midfielder Adam Crawford and he struck it sweetly. Unfortunately for the Lakers and their traveling contingent, Somerville keeper Luis Guerra was equal to the task and able to tip it over the bar.

It would be the last of countless chances for both teams in an entertaining, end-to-end contest between the top two teams in the statewide rankings. Julio Salguero’s second half goal proved the difference as Somerville took a further step than last season by reaching the state title game with a 2-1 victory over the Lakers.

Highlanders head coach George Scarpelli credited that experience of being in the 2012 state semifinal (a 2-1 loss to Needham at Manning Field) for giving his team the extra motivation and confidence to beat Silver Lake.

“I think having the understanding…they knew that they had been here before,” explained Scarpelli. “I think our kids came out firing from the first minute. They knew that they had something to prove and they wanted to finish it off.”

He also referenced the turmoil that faced the program at the beginning of the season and how tough his team was to overcome it and have a successful season.

“They believe they’re the best team in the state and from the stuff that we dealt with at the beginning of the season – these kids have persevered.”

This was a battle of two attack-minded teams and the chances came thick and fast right from the opening whistle. Somerville star Thayrone Miranda headed just wide from a corner in the first 30 seconds. Then Silver Lake senior Sean Hurlburt’s long throw caused problems in the Highlanders box before the ball was deflected just over the bar.

A few minutes later, Paul Beatty nearly intercepted a slow back pass, but Guerra was out quickly to block it away with his feet. Almost immediately after, Miranda had a shot inside the six rebound off the post.

That was just the opening eight minutes.

It was only a matter of time until the first goal arrived. In the 15th minute, Somerville broke quickly off another Hurlburt long throw. The ball was cleared out to Francisco Neto who drove at the last Silver Lake defender before flicking a pass to Miranda. The senior coolly slotted home to make it 1-0, despite Lakers protests that he was offsides.

Scarpelli praised his diminutive central midfielder for his contribution to the opening goal and to the Highlanders possession-based attack.

“People don’t realize that Thayrone is the All-American, but the heartbeat is Francisco,” said Scarpelli. “On the field, he plays like he’s seven-feet tall.”

The long throw was a primary weapon for Silver Lake throughout the game and it was no surprise when one of the throws paid off in a goal. Hurlburt picked up an assist when Somerville failed to clear from the center of the box and senior defender Tim Barrow was on hand to prod the ball home, seven minutes before the break.

Inside the first five minutes of the second half, Somerville had the eventual winning goal. A corner was not cleared and Salguero played it off his chest and hit an unstoppable shot on the half-volley.

Somerville nearly added the important insurance goal, but Miranda’s curling effort was stopped by Lakers keeper Stephen MacSwain. The keeper also stepped up to make a diving save on Salguero, who also saw a shot from the edge of the 18 skim the bar on its way over.

The Lakers upped the pressure in the search for a late equalizer, like the one scored by Beatty in the sectional final against Needham. Hurlburt and fellow senior Brendan Nemes pushed Silver Lake forward, but every time the Lakers put the ball in the box Guerra was there to match.

Silver Lake head coach Dan Correia was proud of the way his team attacked but rued the missed opportunities to get on the board.

“They got the better of the chances; they finished more than we did,” he said. “I was proud of our guys. We generated a lot of offense and just didn’t get the breaks. Their keeper stepped up big in a couple of spots and…that’s the game.”

Scarpelli also heaped praise on his senior goalie.

“I tell the kids that there is always one game that the goalie has to save you. That game with the long throw-in and that save off the 18, he’s probably the best goalkeeper in the state that no one has heard of; he’s amazing. He carried us today.”

Somerville will face West Springfield in the state championship game on Friday night at Worcester State at 7:30 p.m.

Boys Soccer: No. 3 Somerville 2, No. 4 Masco 1

September, 25, 2013
SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Somerville head coach George Scarpelli could only shake his head as he talked about the turmoil that his team has faced this season. Scarpelli was speaking before his squad faced fellow top five team Masconomet Wednesday at Dilboy Stadium.

From the start of training, the well-publicized allegations against several Highlanders’ J.V. players have placed a cloud over the program. Yet, the team has succeeded on the field. But coming into Wednesday’s game, Somerville was preparing to play against one of the top teams in the state without seven of its starters, who were missing from both injury and internal discipline.

By the end of the game, Scarpelli was shaking his head again after his inexperienced crew held off a formidable challenge from Masco. A strong performance by senior keeper Luis Guerra and a second-half goal by senior Luis Salguero pushed the Highlanders to a 2-1 victory in an entertaining, end-to-end contest.

[+] EnlargeLuis Salguero
Josh Perry for ESPNLuis Salguero's winner in the second half kept Somerville ahead of a late Masconomet charge.
“It’s been tough…mentally, physically…I’ve said to people that we haven’t even put together two practices as a whole team to actually physically train together as team,” reflected Scarpelli after his team held on for the victory. “One thing that I was nervous about on this team was depth, but the good thing is that we saw some pieces that can now fill in.”

Masco started the game strongly, as Somerville’s inexperience showed in the opening minutes. The Highlanders were forced to scramble away a corner in the opening minute and Masco senior midfielder Adam Grammer forced Guerra into a good save with his legs. After that save, Somerville started to gain control through senior captain Francisco Neto.

In the 15th minute, Neto earned a free kick from 25 yards out that the midfielder then curled towards the top corner. Masco keeper Willie Stewart got across to palm it away for a Highlanders corner. Neto played the ensuing corner into the box where Jonathan Figueroa hit the bouncing ball on the volley to open the scoring.

The Chieftains came right back, but Guerra saved at the feet of Edison Forbes. Guerra was forced into several great saves in the first half as Masco pressed forward and he was quickly off his line to keep Max Craig from getting to a through ball. In the 30th minute, Jeff Panella played in Grammer, who beat the offside trap, and on a two-man breakaway he unselfishly fed Craig, but the senior slid the ball wide of the open net.

It was a moment that could have turned the game and Scarpelli was proud of the way that his team recovered and even created another chance before halftime. Daniel Raphael forced into a sliding block to prevent Salguero doubling the advantage.

“We stuck in there, we hung in there, we didn’t quit, we didn’t lay down and I was nervous after that one play that they missed that we would turtle-up and hang back I give a lot of credit because they pushed forward and kept going,” said Scarpelli.

The second half continued the pattern. Masco would push forward and create chances, but the Chieftains were denied by solid goalkeeping and inability to finish. Stephen Pease missed over the bar from inside the six-yard-box, Grammer had a shot from a corner cleared off the line by Neto and Guerra, and then the captain also had a header saved on a free kick.

Masco head coach David Mitchell rued his team’s missed chances.

“The difference in the game was that they finished their opportunities and we didn’t,” he remarked. “They didn’t get too many looks, I actually think we had more, but we just didn’t have enough composure in the box.”

Scarpelli credited his senior keeper. He noted, “They had the better chances, but Luis came up big with a few huge saves on breakaways and crosses. You can see how he stands out above just about every keeper in the state. He’s so good; it’s impressive. That’s why I’m going to enjoy this last year.”

Somerville continued to look for the second goal that could put the game away, but Salguero again could not keep his shot down off a Neto cross. From the goal kick, Masco had another chance, but again Grammer was unable to finish a breakaway as Jose Ayala slid in to clear the ball off the line. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled.

Salguero took a feed from Neto and this time planted an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to make it 2-0. Instead of sending Somerville to an easy win, however, the Highlanders backed off for a second and Grammer’s flick eluded Elliot Rippe straight into the path of Craig, who finally was able to finish a breakaway and get Masco back within one.

In the end, Masco pressed but could not find the equalizer. Mitchell was pleased with the performance of his team in a state tournament atmosphere, despite the defeat, “Adam created some good stuff, Max Craig played well up top just distributing balls, and Jeff Panella – I don’t think he missed a ball in the air all day. We’re a good team on the attack; I’m just disappointed that we didn’t finish the chances that we created.”

There was relief from the Somerville players with one player commenting that he could not believe that they had won. It was another positive sign for Scarpelli that his team is capable of going all the way.

“We had three J.V. players starting that game and you wouldn’t know where there were, so I’m proud of them,” he remarked. “These are the games we have to see…that prepare you for the state tournament.”

Boys Soccer: Needham 2, Somerville 1

November, 15, 2012
(Highlights courtesy of The Needham Channel)

LYNN, Mass. -- Mac Steeves scored two first-half goals, including one from the penalty spot, to bring Needham back from a goal down in a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Somerville on Wednesday night at Manning Field.

The Rockets' 6-foot-4 forward was a menace throughout. In addition to scoring goals, Steeves was a towering presence in the midfield and defense as Needham dropped back midway into the second half.

Needham head coach Don Brock, who will be looking for the third state championship of his illustrious career, spoke after the game about the team’s many uses for Steeves in late-game situations.

“We’ve been doing it for several years with Mac," he said. "He can play anywhere on the field. He’s one of the taller players and he’s got a tremendous boot.”

Somerville started the game brighter, with its own star Felix De Bona forcing Needham goalie Kevin MacMillan into two early saves. The Highlanders jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when Francisco Neto’s cross from the left caromed into the net off the knee of Rockets defender Jack Nardi.

Gradually, Needham started to get more control of the ball in the midfield through senior captains Brandon Miskin and William Corkery.

The game changed in the 25th minute when Steeves, who had already had an early chance well-saved by Luis Guerra, was played in by an incisive through ball from Miskin. The team’s leading scorer made no mistake with a cool finish into the bottom corner.

Just before the break, Steeves went down in the box as he battled with Somerville defender Andre Rolim (who also received a yellow card). A penalty was given and Steeves sent Guerra the wrong way to give Needham its first lead of the night.

The call was hotly disputed by Somerville head coach George Scarpelli.

“It’s disheartening," he said. "You play that long and that hard, you know...It was tough when you lose on something like that. You’re talking about two kids that battled all night long. This is why you preach- finish your chances and we would have been there.”

The second half saw little in the way of goalmouth action as the Rockets dropped back into a defensive shell. Both goalies were only forced into one save apiece following the halftime interval.

Scarpelli saw the strategy being implemented and knew that it would be problematic for his team given the size and strength of the Rockets.

“They dropped off," he said. "They put six guys in the back and left one kid up top and it worked. I give a lot of credit to Needham. Coach Brock is a legend, he knows how to play these games and he did it.”

For Steeves, and the rest of the Needham seniors, it was a job well done and sets up a chance to win the program’s first state title since the turn of the millennium.

“Our team, collectively, just played a great game," Brock said. "Our defense has improved so much all season. I think we just put together a good game there and knocked off a very, very good team.”

Needham will advance to the state championship game to be played Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Amherst, at Worcester State University.

Tournament Notes:
  • After Needham’s win, Don Brock commented that he wished that the Rockets would be taking on Ludlow in the state finals so to “get even with them.” Brock, who has more than 600 wins in his career, will have the chance to add his fourth state title on Friday Night.
  • Brock will not get Ludlow, but he will be facing a West region team. Amherst held off Leominster 1-0 in the semifinal game played at Nashoba Regional to advance to Worcester. This was not the expected semifinal matchup as most predicted a rematch of last year’s battle (in the metaphorical and literal sense) between top seeds Worcester North and Ludlow. It was fitting that the two teams that knocked off the top seeds would get to play each other. Amherst have now won three in a row by 1-0 scorelines (the game against Ludlow was scoreless into penalties but goes down officially as a 1-0 win), but it will be a tough task to keep the Rockets off the board.
  • Franklin will face Nashoba in the D1 girls final after the Panthers beat Beverly 2-0 in the early game at Manning Field. Kristi Kirshe, who is on the list of submitted names for All-American status, ended a two-game scoreless streak and notched her 100th goal of her career on an early free kick. Kirshe was dropped into a midfield role against Beverly as they looked to disrupt its attack. The star of the game was Julia Bireley, who was given the man-marking job on Beverly junior striker Caitlin Harty. Harty has scored an incredible 50 goals this season, but barely got a whiff of the goal thanks to the attentions of the junior defender. Friday’s early game should be a classic between two teams that have been ranked all season. Nashoba knocked off Minnechaug, who beat the favorites East Longmeadow in the sectional.
  • Groton-Dunstable will attempt to defend its D2 boys’ state title after handing Belchertown its first loss of the season. The opponent will be the mustangs of Medway who have advanced to the state finals despite losing their best player, Matt Coakley. Sutton will also look to defend its title (Division 3) when it takes on Watertown in the finals. The D3 North sectional champs advanced with a win over Dover-Sherborn in penalties.
  • It will be a battle of unbeaten in the D2 girls’ championship game as Medfield (the 2010 state champs) will face West sectional champions Belchertown. This is the final season for the Orioles at this level and they will have a tough task against the Warriors, who received national top 25 votes in the latest NSCAA poll released yesterday.

Soccer: Beverly girls, Somerville boys win D1 North

November, 11, 2012
LYNN, Mass. -- The incredible tournament run of the Beverly Panthers continued on Sunday afternoon at Manning Field in Lynn.

The No. 4 seed Panthers took home the girls’ Division 1 North sectional title, 2-1 (4-1 in penalties), over No. 3 seed Central Catholic. All four Beverly penalty-takers made their shots, while Central missed its first two shots.

Captain Diandra Crowley calmly slotted home the final penalty setting off rapturous celebrations from her teammates and the large Beverly contingent in the stands.

The Panthers (17-3-1) reached the shootout thanks largely to a superb performance from goalkeeper Casey Cook. The junior netminder made a series of important saves including two in overtime robbing Alli Wiggins and Kylie Regan of game winners.

Beverly head coach Kristin Simpson was in awe of Cook’s play.

“She was by far the MVP of this game. We would not be where we are without her. She made some amazing saves towards the end and kept us in the game.”

The Panthers needed Cook to play well as Central Catholic (15-0-5) dominated large portions of the game, particularly in the first half. Wiggins, Regan, and midfielder Alexa Poulin pulled the strings in the center of the park and kept possession almost entirely in the Beverly half of the field.

It took half an hour, but Central Catholic was able to make the pressure pay with a goal from Alex Nagri off a great pass by Courtney Walsh. Raiders head coach Casey Grange was disappointed that her team was unable to find a second score.

“I thought we were going to get it eventually," Grange said. "This team has been patient all season in terms of scoring. We’ve always found a way to find the back of the net, but unfortunately the soccer gods weren’t on our side today."

Beverly equalized immediately after halftime through record-setting junior striker Caitlin Harty. The forward was raced on to a long pass and was able to chip the ball over the onrushing keeper despite being surrounded by two defenders.

Unbelievably, it was Harty’s 50th goal of the season, which is by a large margin a school record.

Simpson credited an improved effort by her team for changing the tone of the match after halftime.

“The biggest thing was the effort," she said. "We were losing the 50-50 balls and they were outworking us. We started yelling at them a little bit and they started winning some of the 50-50 balls and I think that made the difference.”

Central Catholic had a great chance to win the game in regulation, when Wiggins sprung free on a break following a Beverly corner, but her shot came back off the crossbar.

The Raiders will not advance in the tournament but will finish the season unbeaten (penalty shootouts do not count as losses but as draws). Amidst tears on the sideline, Grange spoke about the impressive season that her team had in 2012.

“Technically we tied and we haven’t lost all season so it’s a tough way to go out," she said. "Our defense was rock-solid, we have the top three scorers in the MVC, but unfortunately we didn’t get one when we needed it.”

It will be an all-Panthers match on Wednesday evening at Manning Field when Beverly takes on Franklin in the state semifinals. The game is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.


In the boys’ D1 North sectional final, the Somerville Highlanders beat St. John’s Prep 1-0 through a goal by star forward Felix De Bona two minutes into the second half.

The final score was not a true reflection of how dominant Somerville was on Sunday afternoon. The Highlanders created numerous chances, particularly the potent DeBona, but were repelled by Prep goalie Ben Alpern.

On the other end, Somerville’s defending was solid and Prep struggled to create any clear cut chances.

It has been nearly 20 years since Somerville had reached this stage of the tournament. Highlanders head coach George Scarpelli explained that he focused on keeping Prep off the board in the first half and then using the wind after the break.

“If we could get the zero in the second half then something’s going to happen and it worked out. We should’ve put some more chances away and that’s something we need to grow on for the next game because I’ll have a heart attack if we do that again.”

St. John’s Prep head coach David Crowell raved about the performance of Alpern, who took over the starting role when captain Brian Keogh was injured prior to the season.

“He kept us in the game and gave us the chance to get the tie and send it to overtime," Crowell said. "But we didn’t really produce any chances in the second half. He was awesome today.”

In reaching the finals, Prep defeated two of the top five teams in the state (No. 4 Acton-Boxborough and No. 1 Masconomet) and Crowell was surprised at his team’s nervousness in the finals.

“I don’t know why we were so tight," he said. "We’ve already come in and beaten so many good teams. I think they felt some pressure today. Somerville deserved it today.”

The Somerville players were spurred on by a huge traveling contingent of fans, which created a great atmosphere for the game. At the final whistle, the players recognized the contribution of the fans by racing over to celebrate right in front of the stands. Scarpelli believes that this result is important not only for the soccer program, but for the city as a whole.

“I don’t think people realize how much this means for the city of Somerville.," he said. "For these kids to realize that if you do the right thing, everything falls into place. Winning comes along with doing everything right and going to school on time and being a good citizen. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Somerville will play in the state semifinals on Wednesday night at 7:30, at Manning Field.

State Tournament Notes:

" There will be a new boys’ state champion in Division 1 this year. Two-time defending champ Ludlow Lions, perennially one of the best teams in the state, were beaten in the West sectional finals by Amherst 1-0 (7-6 in penalties). The Lions had a chance to win it in the end, only to see the shot saved. Amherst will move on to play Leominster, the surprise champions of the Central sectional, in the state semifinals on Wednesday night.

" The Franklin Panthers have continued their amazing unbeaten season and took home the South sectional with a 3-2 win over fellow Hockomock team, Oliver Ames. Franklin built a 3-0 lead early in the first half, but were forced to hold on late when the Tigers scored twice within 90 seconds late in the second half. Panthers top scorer Kristi Kirshe did not get a goal in the win and is still stuck on 99 goals in her career.

" Somerville will face the top seed in Division 1 South, the Needham Rockets, in the state semifinals. Needham earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory over conference rivals Weymouth. Senior captains Nolan Brady and Brandon Miskin getting the goals for Needham. The Rockets are a talented group front to back and, with the losses by Masconomet and Ludlow, can make a strong claim to be the best team in the state. Having one of the state’s best players, forward Mac Steeves, certainly helps their cause. Wednesday night will be exciting to watch Steeves and De Bona go head-to-head.

" As colleague Bruce Lerch tweeted earlier today, what a great year it has been for Dave Wainwright. He led the Dover-Sherborn girls’ soccer team to a state title last season, brought them back to the sectional finals this year, and also led the Needham boys’ lacrosse team to Harvard Stadium in June. While the Lady Raiders may have been beaten today, the boys’ team clinched the sectional title with a 3-0 win over top seed Nantucket.