Another Middlesex Freedom title for Melrose
Published November 27, 2020
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider soccer team finished their nine-game season on the finest of notes: at the top of the Middlesex Freedom League. This after a critical 1-1 tie with Wilmington during their season finale at Fred Green Field last Saturday morning. Melrose has taken the Freedom League three times in the past five years, extending another winning tradition for MHS.
It boiled down to numbers, ultimately. The Red Raiders (4-1-4) topped the league in winning percentage at .667 and ended with 12 points, with Watertown close behind at 11 points.
Still, it was the Wilmington Wildcats who proved a tricky foe on Saturday, and both teams scored in the opening minutes of the quarter and then not again as they duked it out in a defensive battle for three more quarters.
Despite Melrose having about 75% of ball possession throughout the game, they were unable to find the net in the second half. Melrose’s Parker Thorton scored for the Red Raiders early and was primed to score again much later in the game before he got tangled up with a Wilmington defender on a breakaway—a missed penalty call that had fans howling.
While Melrose would have liked more scoring, ending in a stalemate was okay too. The Red Raiders can certainly take pride in only giving up three goals in 9 games, the least amount of goals in the entire Middlesex League. Melrose coach Dean Serino sees both sides. “Not having Tarekegn [O’Neill] hurt us I think,” he said. “We didn’t necessarily play great in terms of generating offense and the officiating could have been better. They missed that penalty on Parker towards the end, but they did their best. Cam played great again at the net. The heart of our success has been our defense. Top to bottom. Jack O’Hara, Sohaib Drif and Matt Whelan were outstanding as usual. They just always hunted the ball, along with CC [Christian Carrieri] and Hooper [Ward], who played with heart. They knew it was their last go-round.”
One player who is coming back is Parker Thorton, who peaked at the right time for Melrose. Says Serino, “Parker played great once again. He gets better and better every game. And he will keep getting better next season.”
Melrose says goodbye to 14 seniors: Paul Sampson, Sohaib Drif, captain Tom Bergin, captain John Lecomte, Eli Champoux, Jacobus Overgaag, Tarekegn O’Neill, Hooper Ward, Seamus Matthews, Dan Oteri, Stephan Rodriguez, Christian Carrieri, captain Jack O’Hara and goalie Cam McDonough.
“I’ve known these kids since they were young boys,” says Serino of his upperclassmen. “They are a team-first group of kids, incredibly humble but driven and talented. They played 9 games. They had reason to complain because this wasn’t a normal year for them but they never did. They represent Melrose on the highest level. They’re everything you can ask for in both athletes and humans. Their parents did a great job raising them.”
Despite losing many seniors, Serino is optimistic about the future. “Our incoming captains, Liam O’Hara, Matt Whelan and Parker Thorton put us in a good position. Our JVA and JVB teams did really well and our juniors Sam Barbagallo and Nial Gavin will return with valued experience.”
Middlesex League All-Stars include Tom Bergin, Jack O’Hara and Taregyn O’Neill. O’Neill wraps up an incredible high school career by being awarded both EMass All-Star and All-State honors.