Beats Pentucket in semis; comes up short against Wayland

Published November 14, 2018


LYNN — The 2018 Lynnfield High boys’ soccer team will go down as one of the best in school history, and not just because they were the first Pioneer squad to get back to the Div. 3 North Final since 2011.

This was a team who’s 14-2-2 record and No. 1 seed were overshadowed, if you can believe that, by their continuity and character.

“This season was amazing. We’re here at the North Final, we haven’t been here in seven years,” said Lynnfield head coach Brent Munroe. “This group deserved to get here, it wasn’t a fluke. It’s been the most fun group I’ve had. They all like each other and work hard.”

Collecting your thoughts after a season-ending loss is never easy, especially when you have had the year and the varsity career that senior Jonathan Luders has had, but the captain couldn’t have been more grateful to be a part of a team like this.

“I’ll remember all the small moments in practice, just how close we were,” said Luders. “Since U8 soccer or whatever it was, this has been a special group. This is one of the most incredible teams I’ve played on.”

DAVID GENTILE (22) got to nearly every ball in the air for the Pioneers and led the defense who shut out Pentucket in the D3N semifinals at Austin Prep. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

In the end, the Pioneers ran into quite simply the best team in the tournament on a freezing Sunday night at Manning Field in Lynn. Wayland was smart, talented and well-organized. They pounced on two chances in the first half, within three minutes of each other to capitalize on momentum and take a 2-0 lead.

With just over two minutes to play in the half, Wayland put in one more on a rebound after a shot hit the crossbar.

Most teams would have ceded to the cold weather and the difficult first half. The Pioneers exemplified their dedication to each other and fought to the very last whistle, winning the second half 1-0.

While having a hard time getting past Wayland’s strong and disciplined defenders, Lynnfield finally broke through with 19:31 left after forcing a free kick just outside the 18. Luders played a perfect ball in to his fellow captain, senior Nathan Bass to make it 3-1.

“The score aside, I loved how we played, especially in the second half,” said Munroe. “I don’t think we were quite ready for their speed in the first half. They just play at a higher speed than we’re used to seeing.”

In the end, it was just Wayland’s night.

“They (Wayland) capitalized on their opportunities. They’re a good team,” said Munroe. “We played as hard as we could, we just lost to a better team today.”

Shut out Pentucket in Semifinals

Lynnfield’s road to Manning went through Austin Prep on Thursday when the Pioneers took on a familiar foe in Pentucket.

During a first half that was tense and mostly even, the Pioneers got on the board on Luders’ first goal of the game.

Luders changed the flow of the contest with a great bid on a hard, low shot that the Pentucket keeper made a great save on, earning a nod of the head from Luders. Not soon after, Luders put the pressure on again and played in a deep cross that a Pentucket defender knocked into his own goal with 15 minutes left in the half.

“It was tense at the beginning,” admitted Munroe. “They were on us early and we were a step slow. Before we got that lucky break, we turned it around and were playing even. One huge difference is Jonathan (Luders). He creates opportunities out of nothing. That’s not to say we aren’t a complete team because I think we are, but he made the play that led to a difficult clear for them and we got a lucky break out of it.”

There was nothing lucky about Lynnfield’s defense, especially in the second half. Led by the Gentile brothers, seniors David and Michael, who control the middle of the field, David from a sweeper position and Michael more as a defensive midfielder, Pentucket couldn’t get much going.

Junior Alejandro Lynch also won everything on the right side and with the support of a defense like that, the Pioneers could go to work on getting some insurance.

Senior Max Sieger played a fantastic game. Usually on the finishing end of beautiful through balls, Sieger played a crispy pass through traffic to Luders who ran onto it on the right side and buried one into the low, left corner for a 2-0 lead with 22 minutes remaining.

“Max played great,” said Munroe. “He is a really hungry player in the box. He plays at a different level when it’s in the goal-scoring area and that’s hard. Most kids freeze up in that area and he’s better.”

From there, it was up to the defense to bring it home.

They did.

“We’re steady in the back and we have been all year,” said Munroe. “David Gentile does a great job of leading us. Michael (Gentile) was outstanding too and we didn’t’ even know if he was going to play today (due to injury). Probably not the best thing to play him 80 minutes but he did.”

It was the third win of the season for Lynnfield over Pentucket, no easy task against one of the Cape Ann League’s historically best programs.

“They’re (Pentucket) always well-coached and play hard,” said Munroe. “Behind Masco they’re always the team to beat in our league and have been for some time so we were happy to beat them.”

That win cemented the status of this team’s reputation, no matter what happened in the Final. Lynnfield was far too competitive and talented this year to feel any kind of consolation but they should be proud of a special season; no doubt one of the best this town has ever seen.