Wellesley’s Brendan Clare (9) attempts to chase down Needham’s Alejandro Agualimpia (10) late in the first half.
Photos by Michael Flanagan
By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It was a bit of a bitter end to the 2016 season for the Wellesley High School boys soccer team, falling 1-0 in overtime to arch rival Needham in the South Sectional quarterfinals last November.
On Tuesday, the Raiders (11-2-1, 9-2-1) took the short trip up 135 and returned to the scene of the crime for their lone meeting with the Rockets (8-6-4, 6-4-4) this season. While Wellesley had obviously put last year’s season-ending loss to Needham in the rearview, the thought of a little revenge was certainly on the Raiders’ minds heading into this annual grudge match.
The Raiders struck first less than 10 minutes into the contest when Ryan Clare put home the rebound of a Will Corkhill shot for an early 1-0 lead. It appeared as if Needham was going to respond and tie the game at one when, three minutes later, Christian Rufo broke in alone for a one-on-one with Wellesley goalkeeper Anders Pineau. The play was ruled offsides, however, and the Raiders maintained their 1-0 edge. Following the negated chance for Needham, the Rockets continued to pressure the Wellesley end, forcing Pineau to make a sprawling save on Alejandro Agualimpia to keep the game 1-0 in favor of Wellesley.
Despite Needham carrying the majority of the play following the first Wellesley goal by Clare, the Raiders were the next to strike, thanks to senior captain Will Corkhill, who booted home a cross by Daniel Frei with 10:06 to play, giving Wellesley a 2-0 lead at the half.
In the opening minute of the second half, Wellesley got a bit of a luck with a long boot by Brendan Clare somehow finding its way over the head of Needham goalkeeper Andrew McNally, going bar down and in to give the Raiders a commanding 3-0 edge.
Following the third Raider tally, Needham tried desperately to cut into the 3-0 deficit, but the Raiders locked down their side of the field and made it almost impossible for the Rockets to cross a ball and get any sort of significant scoring opportunity.
Wellesley hung on for the 3-0 revenge win.
“After the way things ended here last season, it definitely feels nice to come back here tonight and get a win like this,” said Wellesley head coach Tim Mason.
Mason praised his team for the way they executed on Tuesday night, but also says that while the win was certainly impressive, the Raiders always have room for a little improvement, especially with the state tournament looming.
“I was proud of the way the guys executed on some of the early chances we had,” said Mason. “We definitely had a couple balls bounce our way and there are some things we need to touch up on in practice this week, but efforts like we had tonight help build momentum and can hopefully lead to a long tournament run.”
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.