Raiders stunned late, still clinch playoffs

Degefe McCracken-Bradley (7) wins the race for a loose ball along the far sideline. Photos by Mike Flanagan

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

It was about as tough of a loss as they come on Thursday afternoon for Wellesley High boys soccer.

The Raiders led 2-1 midway through the second half in an extremely physical and chippy contest with rival Newton North, only to have things slip away late, with the Tigers (7-5-4, 5-3-4) potting a pair of goals in the final 13 minutes to stun Wellesley, winning by a 3-2 final.

Adding insult to injury, the defeat kept the reigning Division I South champs from clinching a spot in the state tournament, at least for another two days.

With 28:05 to play in the first half, Hugh Parker drew first blood for Wellesley, heading home a beautiful ball off of a corner by senior captain Oskar Haeberlein to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.

Wellesley carried their one-goal lead into halftime, but it did not take long into the second half for North to respond, tying the game at one off a breakaway with 35:27 to play. Liam Jensen responded back for Wellesley with 26:18 to play, heading home another corner off the foot of Haeberlein to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead.

North began to press in search of the tying goal. With 12:59 remaining, Rialto Janairo knotted the game at two for North by booting home a loose ball in the box off of a corner. The goal lit a spark for the Tigers, as North began to control the tempo. With 7:45 to play, Liam Jensen saved the game for Wellesley, racing down a ball that was going into the open net off of a free kick and booting it out of bounds off the line, keeping the game tied at two. During stoppage time, however, Wellesley’s luck would run out as Diego Gisholt scored the go-ahead goal on a break, hammering home a shot that went bar-down and in to give Newton North the 3-2 lead, and ultimately the victory.

On Saturday, Wellesley was able to take care of business and clinch a spot in the Division I tournament via a 3-3 tie with New Bedford. The Raiders now wait to find out where and when they will be playing their first-round contest this upcoming week as they get set to defend their spot atop Division I South.

For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.

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