Boston High School: Somerville

Needham ascends to No. 1 in boys' soccer poll

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
4:32
PM ET
Ludlow drops from the top spot in the ESPN Boston MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week after being beaten by unranked and defensing state champ Belchertown. In the Lions place is Needham, which was held to a scoreless draw against top 10 rival Framingham on Tuesday and faces No. 2 BC High this weekend. Concord-Carlisle stays at No. 3 with St. John's Prep and Masconomet rounding out the top five.

Attleboro's inconsistent form has dropped the Bombardiers out of the top 20 along with Nauset, Somerville, and Westborough. Amherst, which is now 5-0 on the season, has moved into the No. 13 spot, while Milford, Braintree, and Wachusett have all earned spots in the Top 20.

There is a very close race for the final few spots in the top 20 with unbeaten teams like Duxbury and Boston Latin sitting in the last 10 out and several teams, such as the four that moved out of the rankings this week, that have the potential to make a charge up the standings if they can find a run of good results.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

This week's poll by conference:
Bay State - 3
Big Three - 2
Catholic Conference - 2
DCL - 2
Midland - 2
Smith - 2
Cape Ann - 1
Dual Valley - 1
Hockomock - 1
MVC - 1
Old Colony - 1
Patriot - 1
TVL - 1

Ludlow, Franklin are preseason soccer Nos. 1

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
6:15
PM ET
The new soccer season gets started this week and with its beginning comes our preseason statewide MIAA Top 20 polls.

Perennial power Ludlow takes the top spot for the boys, as the Lions try to end a two-year drought without a West sectional title. The Lions are followed by 2012 state champions Needham, which returns almost all of its starters from the team that was a minute away from winning its second straight D1 South title.

Last year’s No. 1, Somerville, drops down to No. 10 after the loss of All-American Thayrone Miranda, but the Highlanders are a strong program that, due to injuries, showed its depth in 2013 and could be back among the contenders this fall. The team that beat Somerville in the 2013 final is also back in the top 20, but will have the challenge of replacing star goalie Alex Kraver (and an early season meeting with Ludlow).

One of the strongest brackets should be D2 North, which has three teams in the top 10, including No. 3 Concord-Carlisle, which looks poised to return to the sectional final with a heavily recruited back line and talented roster from back to front. Last season’s champion Masconomet and finalist North Andover are also in the top 10 teams.

On the girls’ side, 2012 champion Franklin is the top team with 10 returning starters from last year’s state semifinalists. With a roster led by Hockomock League MVP Taylor Cogliano and Eastern Mass. All-Star Nicole Ellin, the Panthers are a favorite to bring home a league title. They are followed by last year’s regular season No. 1 Central Catholic. The two juggernauts meet on Oct. 11, which already looks like one of the games of the season.

Division 2 seems to be one of the most competitive brackets on the girls’ side as well with four teams from D2 in the top 13 to start the season. All four of those teams were sectional finalists in 2013. In addition, Sandwich and Dartmouth are both in the “Last 10 Out” and reached the semifinals of D2 South last season.

For the complete boys' poll, click HERE.

For the complete girls' poll, click HERE.

Players to Watch:

Boys: Edmilson Andrade, Sr. F (New Bedford); Nicholas Drost, Sr. F (Belchertown); Mike Goncalves, Sr. F (Ludlow); Robert Hurstak, Jr. GK (Lincoln-Sudbury); Noah Martins, Sr. F (Dartmouth); Tyler Morin, Sr. M (Algonquin); Lewis Mustoe, Jr. F (Lexington); Aram Ouligian, Sr. M (Needham); Mitchell Palmer, Sr. F (Concord-Carlisle); Matt Rodrigues, Sr. M (Attleboro).

Girls: Francesca Calabraro, So. M/F (Oliver Ames); Abby Clapp, Sr. F (Marshfield); Taylor Cogliano, Sr. M/F (Franklin); Eve Goulet, Sr. D (Sutton); Maddie Jolin, Sr. F (Bishop Feehan); Alexandra Spangler, Sr. M (Acton-Boxborough); Kayla Steeves, Sr. M (Needham); Hannah Volpe, Jr. M/F (Notre Dame Academy - Hingham); Ali Wiggins, Sr. F (Central Catholic).

Conference poll breakdown:

Boys
Bay State - 2
Catholic - 2
DCL - 2
Midland -2
ACC - 1
Big 3 - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Churchill - 1
Dual Valley - 1
GBL - 1
Hockomock - 1
MVC - 1
OCL - 1
Patriot - 1
Smith - 1
TVL - 1

Girls
DCL - 3
Patriot - 3
Bay State - 2
Hockomock - 2
Midland - 2
Cape Ann - 1
Catholic - 1
Dual Valley - 1
EAC - 1
Middlesex - 1
MVC - 1
Smith - 1
TVL - 1

Somerville's Miranda is ESPN Boston Mr. Soccer

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
4:04
PM ET
ESPNBoston.com and its high school section today announced that Thayrone Miranda, senior forward for the Somerville Highlanders, is the recipient of its second annual "Mr. Soccer" award, presented annually to the top high school soccer player in Massachusetts.

The Mr. Soccer award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff and correspondents. Miranda joins Needham’s Mac Steeves (2012) as the award’s recipients.

Miranda will be presented the award at a later date.

“I’ve never seen a player like Thayrone,” Somerville 11-year assistant coach Tiago Moreira said. “He’s something special. Mentally, I think he was ready this year to take the team to the title game.”

Miranda helped to lead the Highlanders to the Division 1 state title game this season. In 2013, Miranda tallied 20 goals and 12 assists while being named Most Valuable Player of the Greater Boston League for a second time, despite missing some of the season due to an offseason knee surgery. He swept through all the Coaches Association’s honors, claiming Eastern Mass. (third time), All-State (third) and All-New England (second) honors while being named an All-American.

For his career, Miranda scored 78 goals and was a Greater Boston League All-Star in each of his four varsity seasons.

“He’s a fully developed player,” Moreira said. “He has so much control over his body, you just can’t teach that stuff.”

Somerville closes season as boys' soccer No. 1

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
10:51
PM ET
With the Division 1 state championship game coming down to penalty kicks, Somerville closes out the MIAA boys' soccer season exactly where it spent most of it: as the No. 1 team in our Top 20 poll.

State champion West Springfield checks in at No. 5.

For the full poll, click HERE.

Shakeups to girls' hockey conference, teams

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
6:57
PM ET
Beverly athletic director James Coffey checks in today with a rebranding of an MIAA girls' hockey league.

The GEMIHL will now be known as the Northeastern Hockey League going forward. The 7-team league has also been separated into two divisions as follows:

NORTH
Beverly/Danvers
Marblehead
Winthrop/Lynn
Masconomet

SOUTH
Cambridge/Somerville/Everett/Malden
Medford
Peabody/Lynnfield

Also, in somewhat related news, Jim Clark of the Boston Herald today reported that Everett will enter the co-op program hosted by Cambridge, citing dwindling numbers. The Crimson Tide's players will enter into the program which has received players from Somerville in recent years, in addition to Malden in the upcoming season.

The moves leave Medford as the only stand-alone program, which is not in a co-op agreement, in the reformatted conference.

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

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
1:39
AM ET
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
11/13/13
12:27
AM ET
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 ESPNBoston.com 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.

Soccer recap: Silver Lake, Franklin take sectionals

November, 11, 2013
11/11/13
12:36
AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. -- It took nearly the full 80 minutes for him to get a chance, but when the ball fell to Silver Lake senior striker Paul Beatty in the box, he was ready to pounce.

Beatty scored with fewer than two minutes remaining and then added a game-winner in the second overtime to lead the top seeded Lakers to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Needham in the Division 1 South sectional final on Sunday night at Aleixo Stadium in Taunton.

The Rockets double-covered Beatty the entire game with Greg Evans marking him directly and captain Daniel Alpert giving cover behind him. The strategy worked for 78 minutes, as Beatty struggled to find room to run and went minutes at a time without even touching the ball.

Down by a goal late in the game, Silver Lake started to throw people forward and the strategy paid off in the final two minutes when the ball was not properly cleared by Needham and a cross was nodded into the path of Beatty by Pat Hutchinson. The senior settled the ball off his chest and slid his shot just past the sprawling Adam Lassman to make it 1-1.

[+] EnlargeSilver Lake soccer
Josh Perry for ESPNBoston.comMembers of the Silver Lake soccer team celebrate their sectional title.
Needham had looked very strong up until that point, but the Lakers carried the momentum into overtime. Three minutes into the second overtime, Alpert tried to head a pass back to Lassman only for Beatty to beat the keeper to the ball and fire a left-footed winner that sparked celebrations on the bench and in the stands.

Head coach Dan Correia knew that Beatty would come through eventually. He remarked, “Even though they contained him for the most part, you could tell that they were very conscious of every touch that he had. We felt it was a matter of time that we get him the ball in the right spot.”

Correia also commented on his team’s ability to persevere and battle to the end of the game. He noted, “We haven’t had to do it often, but it’s good to know that the guys are mentally tough and can do it.”

Needham head coach Don Brock, whose team had not lost since September of 2012, was disappointed with the final result, but proud that the Rockets had a strong season, despite losing eight starters from last year’s state championship team.

“The one with two minutes left, we had that game won if we didn’t let them score,” Brock said. “We just goofed a little bit, as kids will do, but I’m very proud of the way we played.”

He added, “It speaks volumes for the few seniors that we have back from last year and the program. It speaks volumes that we can reload like that and we’ll be back next year.”

It was a very even first half between the top two seeds in D1 South and two teams that had yet to lose this season.

Needham created a few chances down its right side with Matthew Brand playing in a cross that Marco O’Donnell tapped just wide. Junior captain Aram Ouligian also had a header flash wide on a corner and later had a shot deflect inches wide of the post. On the ensuing corner, Brendan Nemes almost put the ball into his own net but keeper Stephen McSwain was able to get his hands on it.

The Lakers best scoring opportunities came from set pieces, including a Beatty corner that had to be cleared off the line and then the rebound shot went narrowly wide.

Coming out of halftime, the Rockets took control of the game and began to dominate the midfield behind strong play from Ouligian and Jordan Angel. Five minutes into the second half, O’Donnell crossed from the left and Brand had a diving header saved by McSwain. It was a warning for the Lakers, but a minute later they were behind.

Ouligian drove forward into the box and sent in a low cross from the right that was tapped in by Hantzly Murat, who was able to get in front of his defender. The goal seemed to inspire the Rockets. Needham started flying all over the pitch and closing down Silver Lake as soon as it got possession.

Beatty was increasingly isolated and Correia looked for any answer to try and get back into the game, including moving the forward out to the left wing in hopes of getting him more touches.

Correia explained, “We shifted a lot of guys forward in the last 10 minutes. We went from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 to 3-4-3, whatever we had to do.”

Silver Lake thought that it had found the equalizer with six minutes remaining, but defender Tim Barrow (who also scored the winner against New Bedford) was ruled offside by the assistant referee.

Four minutes later, Beatty had his chance to keep the Lakers season alive.

“It’s something that we’ve talked about all season,” remarked Correia. “You can’t control the little things. If you go down a goal, who cares; just go out and get the next one.”

Silver Lake will take on north sectional champion Somerville in the state semifinal on Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. at Taunton High.

D1 South Girls: Franklin 2, Bishop Feehan 1

Taylor Cogliano had a goal and an assist and freshman Meg Adams scored the winner with only two minutes remaining to lead Franklin to a 2-1 victory over Bishop Feehan in the D1 South final at Taunton High. It was the Panthers second consecutive sectional title and third in the past four years.

Head coach Tom Geysen reflected on how far the Panthers have come from the preseason to now.

He explained, “In the whole preseason we didn’t score a single goal. Three days before our first game, we scrapped the whole thing – offense, defense, everything. It’s just been a work in progress the whole time and they keep working on it.”

The Shamrocks took the lead in the 37th minute on a goal by leading scorer Maddie Jolin. A long throw was played into the box and Jolin was able to slide a tough angled shot past an onrushing Dani Lonati and inside the far post.

Lonati redeemed herself in the second half with a series of good saves that kept Franklin in the game. She slid to stop a Jolin breakaway and then another from Allie Luongo. She also tipped a hard shot over the crossbar. Those saves would turn out to be huge, as Franklin turned its possession into goals.

Cogliano blocked a Feehan clearance and beat the defender and the goalkeeper to the ball before picking out the top corner and making it 1-1. It was the fourth straight tournament game with a goal for the junior.

“Taylor has stepped up the last three games. Big players step up in big games and that’s what she’s done,” said Geysen.

With two minutes remaining, Cogliano read a bouncing ball and then out jumped a defender to flick a header into the path of Adams. The freshman was able to get a toe on the ball just ahead of the Feehan keeper and it rolled inside the post.

Geysen noted, “She’s going to do numerous things wrong because she’s young, but all of a sudden she’ll do something that makes you say, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ She makes people make mistakes and she has the ability to capitalize when she does.”

Franklin will face north sectional champion Newton North in the state semifinal on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Taunton High.

Soccer Roundup: Silver Lake routs New Bedford

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
1:05
AM ET
WEYMOUTH, Mass. -– Paul Beatty scored a second half hat trick to break open Thursday night’s Division 1 South sectional semifinal at Weymouth High. Beatty’s goals helped No. 1 seed (and No. 1 ranked) Silver Lake cruise to a 5-0 victory over No. 4 seed New Bedford.

Despite the final score, it was New Bedford that looked stronger at the start with star midfielder Klisman Sousa combining well with forward Edmilson Andrade and winger Felipe Ponte to put Silver Lake under pressure. The Whalers had the best chances of the first half and both came off of Sousa’s boot.

First, the Whalers senior played an in-swinging free kick that picked out defender Shawn Dias flying in at the far post, but he was unable to put the header on target. Just a minute later, New Bedford came forward again and Sousa worked the slightest sight of goal and let loose a left-foot rocket that Silver Lake keeper Stephen McSwain punched away.

Beatty had very little service in the first half with New Bedford putting a defender in front and behind him. The complexion of the game changed with just four minutes before the break. A long throw was barely touched past the post by Whalers keeper Austin Eugenio. On the resulting corner, New Bedford failed to clear and the ball bounced into the path of Tim Barrow, who ripped smashed it home to open the scoring.

Down by a goal, New Bedford started the second half by pushing numbers forward. That left room at the back for the speed of Beatty to have effect.

Lakers head coach Dan Correia explained, “They had all the momentum at that point, so for us to be able to be scrappy in the box and tuck one away...I mean those are the goals you need to get in these games. That opened things up a little bit in the second half because they had to change things defensively and freed Paul up.”

Beatty admitted that he was frustrated by the way the first half had gone, but he did not let it get to him. Instead, with his first real look at goal the striker was able to hit a shot that was deflected up over Eugenio to make it 2-0 just three minutes after halftime.

Beatty noted, “You just have to keep knowing that you’re doing the right thing and getting to places where you can get the ball and it will come eventually. I needed that to put me in the right state of mind.”

New Bedford tried to get back into the game through its star player, but Sousa was denied by McSwain again. The keeper was somehow able to get two hands to punch away a swerving shot and then also got down well to palm away the follow-up rebound by Andrade when it seemed destined for the net.

New Bedford head coach John Macaraco remarked that his team was unlucky not to have been on the board and that a goal at that moment would have changed the game.

He said, “The score doesn’t indicate how close this game was; every chance they got, they finished. Their keeper came up with some good saves. If we make it 2-1 then it’s a different game.”

From that point on, New Bedford struggled to get into the possession game that defines its style. Macaraco added, “We never settled down and got into our rhythm. I always say we need to play 'Calma' and I think we played 'calma' and go into our rhythm and if we did, I think the outcome would’ve been different.”

The Whalers were also facing a striker that suddenly felt momentum on his side. Beatty started to find a lot of space to turn and run at defenders. Fifteen minutes into the second half he went one-on-one with Ty Catunto and blew past him to finish from just inside the box to make it 3-0. A few minutes later he tapped in his hat trick when Sean Hurlburt’s long throw was allowed to bounce to him in the middle of the box.

Correia was aksed if this was a typical game for his center forward and he replied simply, “Yeah.”

He elaborated, “I think that’s 35 goals this season. He just has that extra gear that guys don’t have.”

Macaraco pointed to the goal as changing the way his team approached defending Beatty. He remarked, “Once we got down, you know, we had to push some numbers up top. We made a few mental mistakes and, with his blistering speed, he’s able to finish most of his chances.”

Silver Lake added a fifth in the final minutes when Brendan Nemes found space on the edge of the 18 and curled his shot into the top corner. It was an emphatic exclamation point on a dominating win for the Lakers.

It was also the final game in the New Bedford career of the talented Sousa, who drew praise from both coaches after the game. Macaraco reflected, “He’s a special player and he needs just an inch of space and with his ability he can get that inch and get that shot off. It’s been a pleasure being part of his four years at the high school.”

Silver Lake advances to the sectional final on Sunday at Taunton High at 5:30 p.m. to play the defending state champion Needham, which beat BC High 3-0 in the other semifinal.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:
  • While the Needham boys advanced to the sectional final with a solid win in a rematch with the Eagles, the Needham girls could not match the feat in the nightcap at Medway High. The Rockets were beaten 2-0 by defending champ Franklin, which returns to the sectional final. The Panthers got goals from Alexis Stowell and Taylor Cogliano in the first half to earn the victory. The D1 South final will feature the top two seeds, as Bishop Feehan scored in double overtime to end the amazing tournament run of Walpole. It was the first goal that the Rebels had given up in four playoff games.
  • In the D2 South boys’ semifinals, No. 2 seed Oliver Ames allowed a goal within the opening three minutes but then stormed back on a Dave Stapleton free kick and second half header by Gaston Cetrangolo to reach its first ever South final with a 2-1 win over Hingham. The Tigers will face No.13 seed Walpole, which beat Pembroke 2-0. Both of these teams competed in D1 last season. The girls’ final In D2, as it does in D1, will feature the top two seeds with No. 1 Scituate beating Sandwich 1-0 and No. 2 Notre Dame (Hingham) beating Dartmouth 3-2. Those finals will be played on Veterans Day at Braintree High.
  • There was another big upset on the girls’ side on Thursday. The top team in the state, Central Catholic, and the No. 4 team, Duxbury, were already eliminated and now the No. 3 team, Belchertown, is out as well. The Orioles were stunned in the D1 West sectional 1-0 by Pittsfield. The loss ends the remarkable careers of all-state twins Brittany and Breanne Moreau and puts Pittsfield back into the West sectional final for the second year in a row. Minnechaug will be the opponent after it beat East Longmeadow 2-1. There was also an upset on the boys’ side of D1 West with No. 2 seed Amherst beaten on penalties by West Springfield in the semifinal.
  • There will be a rematch in the D1 North boys’ final, as No. 1 seed Somerville beat Malden 3-0 and No. 3 seed St. John’s Prep knocked off Madison Park in double overtime. The Highlanders, led by forward Thayrone Miranda (you know, the guy who did this), will be looking to repeat as sectional champions. On the girls’ side, Newton North will face Acton-Boxborough. The North finals will be on Saturday at Manning Field in Lynn. Also on Saturday at Manning Field will be a top 10 showdown against unbeaten North Andover and perennial D2 power Concord-Carlisle, which will be one of the top games of the tournament. Not to be outdone, the D2 girls will feature a match-up of Beverly and ESPNBoston.com Miss Soccer candidate Caitlin Harty against Concord-Carlisle. Amazingly, those are not even the sectional finals; those are just the semis.
  • In the Central, the defending D1 champion Nashoba girls were eliminated by rival Algonuin. Last year, the Tomahawks lost only three games in the season, each of them against the Chieftains. Algonuin will face top seed Westborough in the final to be held at Wachusett. Westborough also has the top seed on the boys’ side and the Rangers advanced to the sectional final to face Wachusett, which knocked off two-time D2 state champion Groton-Dunstable (moved into D1 after the Central lost a Division 2). Wachusett will host the boys’ final. Like Westborough in D1, Sutton will have both the boys and girls in the finals in D4 after both were dropped down from D3.

Video: Somerville's Miranda makes SportsCenter Top 10

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
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Somerville High senior striker Thayrone Miranda had himself a day in the Highlanders' 4-0 Division 1 North quarterfinal win over Brookline on Tuesday afternoon. He notched a natural hat trick, but it was the third goal that has everyone talking.

Miranda came in at No. 4 on the "SportsCenter" Top Plays on Tuesday night with his nifty bicycle kick, executed early in the second half. Check out the video above.

Silver Lake claims boys' soccer No. 1

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
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Silver Lake takes over the top spot in the statewide ESPN Boston boys' soccer Top 20 poll after winning its 17th straight game last week.

The Lakers have outscored opponents 78-9 this season and showed their state title aspirations with a convincing win over No. 8 St. John's Prep last week.

Somerville keeps hold of the No. 2 spot and New Bedford drops from the top spot to No. 5 after losing to Brockton.

There was a lot of movement in the bottom half of the rankings this week as some of the teams struggled in the final games of the regular season, which is to be expected when other teams are desperately fighting for points to qualify for the playoffs.

Holliston enters the rankings for the first time after beating Medway and claiming the title in the competitive Tri-Valley League.

Oliver Ames jumps back into the rankings after winning the Davenport title and starting to show some of the firepower that helped it reach the D1 South semis last season. Meanwhile, unbeaten Martha's Vineyard also enters the rankings at No. 18, but the EAC champs will still have something to prove in the tourney, as some question just how good the team from the island is this season.

Medway, Wachusett, and Framingham each dropped into the Last 10 Out after tough losses over the past week, but all three will be looking forward to a potentially long run through the postseason.

Brockton was right on the edge of the rankings after beating former No. 1 New Bedford, but the Boxers followed with a 2-0 loss to BC High and stay just out of the Top 20.

State tournament brackets will be released on Wednesday.

For this week's full Top 20 poll, click HERE.

In This Week: No. 15 Holliston, No. 16 Oliver Ames, No. 18 Martha's Vineyard

Out This Week: Medway, Framingham, Wachusett

Silver Lake to No. 3 in boys' soccer poll

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
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New Bedford retains the top spot in our MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week ahead of Tuesday's clash with Big Three rival Brockton, which tied the Whalers in the first meeting. A pair of scoreless draws last week drops Needham down a couple of spots to No. 4 and Somerville moves back up to the two spot.

Silver Lake's impressive 5-1 win over St. John's Prep jumps them above Needham, while Masconomet moves to No. 3, but even with the loss, the Eagles stay in the Top 10 just ahead of their Catholic Conference rivals BC High (who Prep has beaten twice this season).

The Division 1 West sectional should be a battle with three teams in the Top 20, which based on the number of qualifiers from last season, means almost 40 percent of the sectional is ranked. Ludlow has been inconsistent but remains in the Top 10 closely followed by Belchertown with Amherst at No. 19. Central also has three teams, two from D1 and Sutton from D3,

Oliver Ames drops into the Last 10 Out after another draw in the Hockomock League, but watch out for the Tigers in D2 South. OA is replaced by Westborough, which enters the rankings for the second time this season at No. 18. The Rangers were the first team to beat Ludlow this season (at the time the Lions were no. 1) and are the only team to beat Wachusett this year.

There are two undefeated teams in the Last 10 Out, newly dropped Oliver Ames and EAC champion Martha's Vineyard.

This demonstrates how much parity exists as soccer continues to become more popular and the level of play increases across the state.

Just one more week until we're looking at playoff brackets and the excitement (and mohawks) are already growing.

For this week's full poll, click HERE.

New Bedford regains top spot in boys' soccer

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
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New Bedford takes over the top spot again in our MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week, after Ludlow was stunned by Westborough last week.

Somerville moves up into the No. 2 spot (or, more appropriately, No. 1A), as it continues unbeaten as well. Last year's defending state champs are still undefeated as well and hold on to the No. 3 spot.

The biggest moves were the drop of Medway from No. 11 to 19 after a defeat to unranked (but unbeaten) Norton and draw against Holliston. The Mustangs are still a solid team and the drop was more about the strength of the teams around them than there own weaknesses.

Oliver Ames also dropped eight spots, from No. 12 to 20, after four straight draws. The Tigers have looked good in all four games, but have struggled to finish against the strong defenses in the Hockomock League.

Brockton dropped out of the rankings after debuting at no. 20. The Boxers were crushed 7-2 at Xaverian and were replaced by Wilmington (at no. 18), which has won 11 games in a row and picked up a win against no. 7 St. John's Prep.

For this week's full Top 20 poll, click HERE.

Ludlow new No. 1 in boys' soccer Top 20

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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There are a lot more changes to our statewide MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week as some of the teams hit rough spots.

At the top is Ludlow, after the Lions made it a perfect 10-0 to start the season. The next three teams are all 8-0-1 and each could be considered the top team as well. Needham moves up a spot to No. 5, while Silver Lake continues to make its way up the rankings to No. 7.

Four teams were dropped from the rankings this week. Dartmouth lost to Brockton for the second time this season and fell below .500 for the year. Worcester North also lost again and fell from the final spot at 3-3-3 for the season. Westborough and Bedford only lasted one week in the Top 20 before tough losses knocked them back into the Last 10 Out.

Nauset is back in the rankings, where they started the season, after the Warriors made it eight games unbeaten. This is the Nauset team that we expected in the preseason. Wachusett and Framingham each enter the rankings for the first time after strong starts to the season. The No. 20 spot is held by Brockton, which has played a very difficult schedule. Its losses came to No. 3 Somerville and No. 13 BC High and the Boxers pulled out a tie against No. 2 New Bedford last week.

For the full poll, click HERE.

In This Week: No. 16 Nauset (7-2-2), No. 18 Wachusett (6-1-0), No. 19 Framingham (7-1-0), No. 20 Brockton (6-2-1)

Out This Week: Dartmouth (3-4-1), Westborough (6-1-1), Bedford (5-2-0), Worcester North (3-3-3).

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

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
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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.”

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