Boston High School: Greg Kolodziey

D1 Boys Soccer: Ludlow 2, Masconomet 1

November, 19, 2011

WORCESTER, Mass -- The Ludlow Lions are back-to-back Division 1 boys soccer state champions, after a 2-1 victory over the Mascnomet Chieftains to claim their 17th title.

“It never gets old,” Lions head coach Greg Kolodziey said. “It’s a new group of kids every year, new families, they want to go through the experience and we try to get them here.”

Ludlow (17-2-4) found themselves trailing after 48 minutes when Masconomet (17-4-3) midfielder Chad Burke lofted a free kick into the Lions box from around 45 yards out and Charles Sherman met the cross and flicked his header over Ludlow keeper Nicholas Zucco’s and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

In the 58th minute, Masconomet sophomore Stephen Pease burst into the box but was met by a host of Ludlow defenders. Pease looked like he may have had a penalty claim on the play, but the ball rolled out for a Masco corner, which they almost turned into their second goal. Burke took the Chieftains corner kick and played another beautiful ball into a dangerous area, but this time Zucco was able to cut out the danger with a strong a catch in traffic.

Two minutes later, the score was level. Ludlow junior forward Kyle Tomas found himself with plenty of room to get a shot off from 30 yards out on an angle, and his strike hit the top right side of the net for the equalizer.

Each side had an opportunity to take the lead in the final 15 minutes. Ludlow’s came in the 67th minute on a well struck Brandon McCarty shot that whistled just wide of the right post. Masconomet’s chance came in the 72nd minute when Sherman smashed a low and inviting cross in the space between Ludlow’s back line and their goal. The shot took a deflection and forced a reaction save from Zucco, truly a game changing play.

“It was just instinct,” Zucco said of his save. “After we made that save, I knew we were winning. There was no way we could be stopped.”

Ludlow’s game-winning goal came in the 84th minute, and again it was Tomas with the finish. Luke Woishnis threw the ball in to teammate Jeff Danek near the Masconomet end line. Danek fired a cross directly across Chieftains' six-yard box, where Tomas was already mid slide, feet first, to tap in the goal that gave Ludlow the title.

“I knew he was going to send it through,” said Tomas of Danek’s playmaking cross. “We practice it every day at practice, just sending balls in and I knew it was coming, I got ready for it and got a foot on there and it went into the back of the net.”

“We had to have a big turnaround at halftime,” coach Kolodziey said of Ludlow’s second half performance. “They were taking it to us, we were a little bit lazy and careless with the ball. We had to just step up our game and be a little bit sharper.”

Edge of 17
On both of Tomas’s goal celebrations he raised his jersey to reveal a tee-shirt with a message that read “I’m only 17”.

“It’s a little inside joke,” he told reporters after the match. “The other fans before the game were saying I was 19 years old and only a junior in high school, but it just says ‘I’m only 17’”.

Seventeen is also the amount of state championships the Ludlow Lions have won, including three of the last four, which is quite an achievement for the 12 seniors who have been in the program for this incredible run.

“They were there from day one,” Kolodziey said of his senior class. “They’ve been good workers, and this is just a culmination of their career.”

Impressive display of defense for Ludlow

November, 20, 2010
WORCESTER, Mass. -- When asked how his Ludlow Lions pulled off a convincing 4-1 win against New Bedford in the Division 1 Boys' State Championship on Friday night, Ludlow head coach Greg Kolodziey rattled off a good response.

“We had the heart of the lion and the heart of the champion.”

It was true that the Lions played with a lot of effort and intensity, but it didn’t hurt that they were able to shut down a potent Whalers offense thanks to a good defensive scheme.

Kolodziey gameplanned specifically on stopping the physicality of New Bedford’s offensive weapons, but also focused on keeping his Ludlow players in the same groove they had been in all season.

“We wanted to disrupt their rhythm,” Kolodziey said. “We saw them play their semi-final and if they get in a good rhythm their very dangerous -- and we knew they would do damage. “

“We knew that they had big guys…but we knew that the best plan was the way that we play.” Sergio Rodrigues said about the strategy. “We like to go through the wings and beat them when we cross it, so we carried it out tonight and killed them.”

The Lions came out clicking and it seemed that in the first half the team kept gaining momentum with every score. Ludlow led 3-0 after sophomore Kyle Tomas scored off of a free kick from Sergio Rodrigues before halftime.

New Bedford clearly did not have an answer to Ludlow’s attack, but -- more importantly -- couldn’t keep pace with the Lions because of a stingy defense.

Whalers’ captain Fernando Baptista, who is well-known for a bruising playing style, was held relatively quiet until the 43rd minute, when he delivered a 30-yard strike past Ludlow keeper Stephen Lopes. However that is about all the noise that Baptista made in the state final thanks to a good Ludlow defensive strategy.

“We knew that Baptista was going to try and control the game and we had a special kid that was up for the task to get him off of his game,” Kolodziey said about Baptista.

Junior midfielder Shaun Mello had the task of marking Baptista, and dealt well considering the circumstances. Mello and the Lions center backs guarded Baptsita and striker Felipe Ponte throughout the match.

“I give all the credit to the [defense],” Lopes said. “They made my job super easy tonight. It was one of the best games they played all year.”

“We knew what we were up against when we saw New Bedford play,” Kolodziey said. “We knew we were going to need a monumental mistake-free effort to win this game…we stuck to the gameplan, built on it, and came away with a win.”

Pereira legacy comes full circle for Ludlow

November, 20, 2010

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Fred Pereira stood quietly in the back row of the visiting bleachers at Worcester State College's John Coughlin Field. The Ludlow High legend and North American Soccer League veteran always stays quiet behind the scenes these days, but admits he wasn't at ease watching his son lead the Lions to an eventual victory over New Bedford until the waning moments.

"We've been up 2-0 at the half and lost games," Pereira said quietly. "And this New Bedford team, they score so quick, so I didn't feel comfortable until the last five minutes of the game."

Forgive him, though, for the anxiety even as Ludlow dominated the pitch last night against the Whalers in the Division 1 state championship. In his legendary senior season of 1971 with the Lions, he scored 50 goals but couldn't lead them to a championship, falling 2-1 to these same Whalers in the state final.

But Fred can rest easy now. His son, Chris, took control of the match from the opening minutes, reeling off break after break through the New Bedford back line, en route to an easy-looking 4-1 victory that gave them their second state title in three years, and 16th overall.

"I always like to make my dad proud," Chris laughed. "And that's what we came out here to do tonight. But my dad wasn't the only one from way back when with a son on the team. So we're just glad that we could come out and make our community proud tonight."

New Bedford (19-2-3) came into the contest having allowed just 13 goals all season. But the connection between Pereira (two goals, assist) and fellow senior forward Alex Goncalves is one that demands marking from one's speediest defenders, and they showed why in the opening minutes. Less than five minutes into the contest, the two struck the opening goal for the Lions (16-2-5) with Pereira setting Goncalves up on the break, drawing Whalers goalkeeper Eli Ries off his line and beating him with a shot to the far post.

Pereira then made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute when he stole the ball deep in Whaler territory and beat Ries to his right from inside the 18-yard box, before closing out the scoring in the 50th minute with a one-timer from Goncalves, sliding across the goalkeeper's box and tapping it in with his heel.

"We watched them play in the (Eastern Mass) final (against Newton North), they're a talented group, and we knew if we let them play we were going to be in trouble," head coach Greg Kolodziey said. "So we tried to put some pressure on them and disrupt their flow. It seemed to work, we got the early goal, and that carried us for most of the game."

Special credit, then, can be given to junior midfielder Shaun Mello, who was tasked with marking New Bedford's physical forward Fernando Baptista, he of the double-overtime game-winner in Tuesday night's thriller over Newton North. Baptista got on the board with a 30-yard strike in the 43rd minute, but by then the Lions had already built a 3-0 lead and seized momentum.

"We knew Baptiste was going to try to control the game," he said. "We had a special kid that was up for the task to get him off his game. I think that worked a little bit, and he did a great job. He took him off his game a little bit."

As the minutes ticked off the clock, and the Lions' grip on their victory locked up, hugs and high fives were abound on the jubilant sideline. The capacity Ludlow supporting side, complete with Portugal flags and drums, roared on and even stormed the field to greet the champs. Chris was hounded by a sea of maroon.

Even old Fred couldn't help but let down his guard.