Warriors stun Liberty division leader Winchester, 1-0
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — There is an old cliche that says if a team wants to be the best, then it has to beat the best.
If the Wakefield Memorial High boys’ soccer team can clinch a state tournament berth this year then yesterday’s 1-0 upset win over Middlesex League Liberty division leader Winchester at Walton Field could just be the key win that eventually helps put the Warriors into the postseason.
There is still a long way to go but Wakefield earned two big points as it increased its record to 5-5-1 overall and 4-5-1 in the M.L. Freedom division.
The winning goal came two minutes into the second half as senior Joe Stackhouse crashed the net and put a shot off the right post. The assist on the score came from senior forward and tri-captain Neil Fitzgerald.
Wakefield held off the Sachems for the rest of the game and even had a chance to add another goal late as Fitzgerald won the battle for a loose ball and broke in alone. However the Winchester goalie, senior Griffin Burkey, came out and challenged the ball and made a tremendous save.
Time ran out and the Warriors celebrated their first victory over Winchester in a very long time. It was Head Coach Matt Angelo’s first win against the Sachems in his three years on the sideline.
“It was a nice win. We have been stuck in that win one-lose one pattern,” said Angelo. “We haven’t played poorly but we haven’t put together a whole 80 minutes. We have always been in every game. We haven’t been blown out. But we played a whole 80 minutes today. Winchester is in first place in the Liberty division and they have beaten both Lexington and Belmont.
“It was a complete team effort. I have never been more proud of this team,” added Angelo. “We did everything perfect. Tactically we played well. We were attacking and I think our defense has been been underrated.”
The Warrior defense did a terrific job of limiting Winchester’s attack. When the Sachems did get a chance, senior goalie Tyler Strauss was there to make the stop. Strauss made 13 saves, several of which were of the dazzling variety.
Senior tri-captain Ian Ritchie and juniors Andrew Auld and Andrew DeCecca all had solid defensive efforts for the Warriors.
Wakefield had the majority of the possession in the early going and had several opportunities. Senior Billy Sheerin had a long shot go over the net. Also, senior Cam Yasi fired a shot that Burkey made a nice save on.
Winchester also had some chances as well. Junior Mark Calnan had a shot go over the net and a shot hit the right post and stay out of the net. Also sophomore Justin Miranda had a bid for a goal but Strauss came out of the net to challenge the play and make the save. Strauss also had to make a diving save right before halftime. The senior knocked the ball out of harm’s way as the contest remained 0-0 at the break.
The Warriors came out and attacked the net to begin the second half and scored almost immediately.
“We started crashing the net which is what we told them to do and Joe Stackhouse scored a nice goal,” said Angelo. “We knew that we can beat anybody when we play the entire 80 minutes. We have showed that we can hang with anyone. We haven’t been blown out. We even had more chances to score.”
Junior Will Hubbard took a free kick for Winchester that Strauss made a save on. Strauss’ biggest save of the game came on a bid from long range by senior Colin Hickey. Hickey sent in a high shot that Strauss leaped up and knocked over the net with his hand. That resulted in a corner kick for the Sachems but Strauss took control and covered the ball on a bid.
From that point on, the Warriors were able to deny any major scoring opportunities and they held on for the upset win.
Last Thursday at Pierce Field, Wakefield was edged by Arlington by a 3-2 score.
Wakefield fell behind by a 2-0 score early on but rallied to tie the game at 2-2 at halftime. Scoring the Warrior goals were sophomore forward Braedan Langlois and Fitzgerald.
Arlington tallied the lone goal of the second half which wound up being the difference in the outcome.
Angelo felt that Wakefield played well enough to come away with the point and he said the team was disappointed with the result. However the Warriors didn’t feel that way yesterday as they came up with a huge win over a top team.
Wakefield takes on Belmont tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Harris Field.
At Walton Field
Winchester………0 0 — 0
WAKEFIELD……..0 1 — 1
First Half — No Scoring.
Second Half — Wak, Stackhouse (Fitzgerald) 2:00.
Saves — Wak, Strauss (13). Win, Burkey (9).