The Second Annual Bay State Catholic Conference Challenge took place Saturday at DeFazio Field in Needham. And, for the second season in a row, the Bay State Conference came out undefeated.
The 1 p.m. kickoffs had two intriguing matchup’s with Bay State Carey Leaders Weymouth (6-1-2 overall) taking on Catholic Conference leaders St. John’s Prep (5-1-2 overall), also the Defending D-1 State Champs Catholic Memorial (2-2-2 overall) matching up with the Braintree Wamps (3-2-4).
The first half hour between Weymouth and St. John's Prep saw little scoring chances, but that changed with 11:04 remaining in the first half when the Wildcats began to apply some serious pressure. Senior captain Zak Stuart worked his way to the end line and delivered a cross towards Akere Tambi, but St. John’s goaltender Adam Collea was in a good position and punched the cross away from Tambi.
But Collea was helpless one minute later on a Wildcats corner, which wasn’t headed away from danger. Weymouth junior TJ Butler volleyed the second ball straight into the side netting so sweetly that no keeper in the state would have saved it.
“It was pretty good, one of my top ones," Butler said of the goal after the match, “I felt like I got pretty lucky there, it just popped out and I put it in.”
Butler had another strike moments later sail just over the bar. Weymouth took a 1-0 lead into the half.
The Eagles had their two best chances in the final 11 minutes of the game. The referee awarded an indirect free kick inside the penalty box to St. John’s, which Deklan Robinson struck into Weymouth’s wall. In stoppage time, Jake Gourdeau had a free header from the penalty spot, which sailed over the bar.
Weymouth won by the final of 1-0 improving to 7-1-2 while St. John’s Prep fell to 5-2-2.
Catholic Memorial found themselves ahead after just two minutes thanks to Owen Carroll, who finished from just outside the six-yard box. Braintree tied the game up 11 minutes later off of a long throw in and the teams went into the half tied at one. And while CM had the run of play from the moment Braintree scored at was the Wamps who went in front for good with a half an hour to go after Rob Ross found Jared Rizzo streaking in and Rizzo finished low far post.
“We didn’t start too well, but we finished well,” Rizzo said. "I think we’re starting to pick it up and will put a little run together.”
There were three games at three o’clock, and on paper No. 10 Brookline verses BC High seemed like it would provide the most excitement. BC High got on the score sheet first when Yago Tome scored with 2:24 remaining in the first half sending the Eagles into the break with the one-goal edge.
Senior forward Pietro Gaudiano put the Warriors back on level terms with just 16:03 remaining in regulation, and for the second season in a row the two teams played to a 1-1 draw. The Warriors (now 5-1-3 overall) are on their worst run of the season with a loss and two draws in their last three games, while the draw was the fifth of the season for the Eagles who move to 1-1-5.
Newton North picked up their second win of the season over Malden Catholic (2-3-1), ending the Lancers two game winning streak. Sophomore Michael Kaye and junior Luke Westman were on target for the Tigers (2-4-3) in a game that head coach Roy Dow thinks is a big step forward for his team.
“I think this is our first game where we really played well for 80 minutes," Dow said.
And it was just the second clean sheet of the season for Newton North. “In the back we were winning everything, our guys have adopted the mentality if it’s in the air coming to our back line to win it in the air, so that really helped us today.”
Needham versus Xaverian rounded out the three o’clock contests with the Rockets picking up a 2-0 victory, thanks to goals from junior Quinton Pangier and sophomore Mac Steeves. It was the first goals of the season for both players, but for Steeves it was a long time coming after having three goals called back in 2010 by referees decisions.
Steeves is no stranger to scoring, having scored eight goals as a freshman. But he admits it was good to get off the mark this year.
“It actually felt really good, hoping to score a few more this season and pick up a few more wins,” Steeves said.
The Rockets are 3-4-1 after the game while Xaverian is still in search of their first victory at 0-5-3.
The challenge moved from four games to five this season, and will become a regular fixture for all the teams involved.
“This tournament is going to go on from year to year, everyone seems to like it” Needham head coach Don Brock said. “We try to do this in the middle of the year to give it a tournament flavor and it’s been well received so far.”
The Bay State Conference leads the Catholic Conference in this particular challenge 7-0-2 which started in 2009.