Warriors blast Spartans, 7-0, are now three points away from clinching a state tournament berth
By DAN BYRNE
WAKEFIELD — On Wednesday evening at Walton Field, the Wakefield Memorial High School varsity boys’ soccer team looked to further its bid for a berth in the state tournament as it squared off with Stoneham.
Needing just five points from the final five games to secure a spot in the postseason, Wakefield took care of business against a Stoneham team that is in the midst of a down season, having not won a game yet to this point. The Warriors routed the Spartans, 7-0.
An easy win for the Warriors was just what head coach Matt Angelo was hoping for as his team stepped onto the pitch under the lights on Wednesday, But he knew from the first meeting between the two teams that he would have to have his players ready to go.
“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have any let downs tonight,” Angelo said after the game.
Coach Angelo and the Wakefield supporters were pleased to watch their team come out and deliver an impressive performance, completely dominating all over the field for the entire 80 minutes. When the final whistle blew Wakefield stood on the triumphant side of the 7-0 blowout.
“We knew that Stoneham was the lowest team in the division but when we played them over there, they popped two goals in on us,” the coach said.
When a team faces off with an obvious differential in ability it can sometimes lead to the better team being less prepared or playing down to their opponent. Coach Angelo made sure that didn’t happen tonight.
“We came out tonight and really wanted to establish dominance and we did,” said Angelo, whose team took the lead just a quarter hour into the first half after Jon Ingalls turned in a shot from close range with Ian Ritchie on the assist.
Just a couple minutes later and Wakefield doubled its lead, this time with Ritchie scoring from Ingalls’ feed on a cross from a corner that was begging to be headed into the net. Ritchie rose higher than any defender and connected with a powerful header that beat the keeper and gave Wakefield a two goal advantage.
Wakefield and Stoneham sparred for the remaining 20 or so minutes of the first half but no goals were produced and Wakefield took a two goal lead into halftime.
In reality, the score could have been much greater, as Wakefield had three shots smack square against the cross bar, two in the first half and one at the start of the second, narrowly missing to adding to the lead.
The first half was good for Wakefield but the best was yet to come. When the teams switched sides for the second half, Wakefield put it all together and delivered its most complete performance of the season to date.
“We were up 2-0, but we were a little bit slow in the first half,” said Coach Angelo. “(The) Second half was real telling of who we were against them.”
The Warriors wasted no time after the break and just two minutes into the second half, Mark Melanson found Neil Fitzgerald to make the score 3-0. Six minutes later the roles were reversed, and it was Fitzgerald feeding Melanson to put the Warriors up 4-0.
In the second half, the Warriors simply outclassed the Spartans as the visitors were struggling to fend off the waves of Wakefield attacks. Stoneham didn’t possess the ball much at all in the second half, most of its touches were to clear its defensive line and ease the pressure on their goal.
To Wakefield’s credit, after establishing a 4-0 lead early in the second half, it didn’t ease off and instead followed through and finished off the game.
With the second half clock winding on, Kyle Geaney got a chance to lead the attacking line for the Warriors and, in the final 20 minutes, he had a hand in the final three goals for Wakefield, scoring two and forcing a corner that led to the third.
It was an impressive showing from the senior, who left the game with a sprained ankle the last time these two teams met. Having missed some time, Geaney needed to work hard to get back on the field, efforts that did not go unnoticed by Coach Angelo who said, “I’m real happy for Kyle Geaney because he’s been working his butt off trying to get those goals in, (his) hard work paid off tonight.”
To go along with the Fitzgerald, Melanson and two Geaney goals, Cam Yasi was the beneficiary of a beautiful corner from Alejandro Winsor. After several attempts to put the cross in were kept out by Stoneham players on the goal line, Yasi finally got the last touch to get it past the goalie.
Though many players may have had their best game to date on Wednesday, in the eyes of Coach Angelo it was a total team win. When asked to highlight a few players that he felt stood out he responded, “Everyone stood out tonight, the team in general.”
When pushed a bit more on the subject he added, “Our midfield played well particularly, Ian Ritchie, Mark Melanson and Neil Fitzgerald.”
With the win the Warriors record improves to 6-5-3 on the season, putting them one up in the loss column for the first time all season and that makes Coach Angelo proud. The Warriors are now three points away from clinching a state tournament berth.
“This is first time all year we’ve got a winning record. We’ve been chasing it all year and we finally got it.”
Wakefield put its record on the line again Friday as it heads out on the road to face Wilmington.
Coach Angelo is hoping his team can ride the wave of momentum generated by this win and play positively on Friday.
“That’s going to be a tough one but I think we can get them,” he said.
At Walton Field
Stoneham…….0 0 — 0
WAKFIELD…..2 5 — 7
First Half — Wak, Ingalls (Ritchie) 15:00. Wak, Ritchie (Ingalls) 18:00.
Second Half — Wak, Fitzgerald (Melanson) 2:00. Wak, Melanson (Fitzgerald) 8:00. Wak, Geaney (un.) 23:00. Wak, Yasi (Winsor) 28:00. Wak, Geaney (Yasi) 34:00.
Saves — Wak, Strauss (5). Sto, Markiewicz (4).