TAUNTON, Mass. – When Greater New Bedford Vocational sophomore Josh Edwards played in his first varsity soccer game on Sept. 24 against Case; he scored three goals as the Bears mauled the Cardinals.
All that did was earn him a return ticket to the Bears’ junior varsity team.
But after what Edwards did Sunday night in the Division 1 South section final (his second varsity game), coach Henry Andrade may want to consider which team Edwards should play on next season.
Edwards came off the bench for the first time near the midway point of the second half against 15th-seeded Boston College High and promptly scored to break a 1-1 tie and give the top-seeded Bears the championship – in their first trip to the sectional finals since 1999.
“I wanted him to give one of our players a rest,” explained Andrade. “This was his second varsity game. In his first varsity game he touched the ball three times and scored three goals.
“After that, he went back down to jayvees. This was his first game back with us and he scores the winning goal. He’s fast. He’s physical. He’s a very opportunistic player.”
Flavio Carvalho, who’s been superb for the Bears (19-2-1) throughout the tournament, started the play by passing to Felipe Dias deep in the right corner.
Dias, in turn, centered the ball for Edwards in the box and he beat Kevin Zemaitis at 18:34.
“It was a great set-up by my teammates,” Edwards said. “I heard the footsteps (Zemaitis came out to challenge Edwards) and knew I was only going to get one chance at this so I just turned and shot it.
“I’m happy I could help out the team. I wanted to win this thing as much as they did.”
Carvalho, who scored the winning goal in the Bears’ first three tournament games, also had a foot in their first goal of this game.
A senior midfielder, Carvalho lofted a corner kick and Corey Lopes headed it past Zemaitis in the third minute of play.
As the clock wound down, it appeared the Eagles (12-7-4) would go into halftime trailing by one goal. But after a throw-in from deep in the right corner by Marc Monestime, Caleb Long pounced on a loose ball, spun around and knocked it past Luis Carranza with just under a minute remaining.
Carranza only was called on to make just two saves because the Bears put 11 shots on goal as compared with a mere three shots for the Eagles.
“We showed throughout the whole tournament that we have a lot of heart,” said Andrade. “The teams that we played were more physical than us.
“Flavio’s been unbelievable. He’s scored three game-winning goals so far in this tournament and he was a rock again tonight.”
In Andrade’s opinion, Lopes’ goal enabled the Bears to avoid a (no pun intended) rocky start.
“As soon as we scored that first goal, it kind of settled us down,” said Andrade. “Even though they came back and scored, the kids still believed that we could win it.”
That’s exactly what happened as Edwards scored what may prove to be the most improbable goal of his high school career.