Published July 12, 2019

LANCASTER — Let’s just say Melrose was well-represented at the Middlesex Youth Soccer League’s Commissioner’s Cup on the weekend of June 22.

Melrose Youth Soccer sent eight teams to the tournament and brought home plenty of highlights along with two championship trophies.

The girls’ 3rd/4th grade Team Five and the girls’ 7th/8th grade Team Two both won their Commissioner’s Cup Tournaments.

THE MELROSE 7th/8th grade Team Two went undefeated in the Commissioner’s cup to bring home some championship medals. Pictured in the front row from left to right is Mia Galego, Ranya Abidi, Jillian Bakey, Olivia Brown and Annie Bailey. In the back row from left is assistant coach Mick Duffy, Clodagh Duffy, Shelby Connors, Zoe Smith, Kaitlyn Riker, Olivia Frakt, Victoria Charry, head coach Carlos Charry and assistant coach Tim Bakey. Not pictured: Olivia DAmario, Gabriella Hill, Jillian McCue, Dikate O’Neill, Amy Rowe and Morgan Veit. (Courtesy Photo)

Girls’ 7th/8th grade Team Two

The girls 7th/8th grade team two went undefeated in the Commissioner’s Cup Tournament. The girls played hard all weekend long, but especially in the heat on Sunday when they played with no subs and against two teams with seven or more extra players. Their hard work certainly paid off.

Girls’ 3rd/4th grade Team Five

The Melrose Teal Dolphins finished the season as 2019 Commission’s Cup Champions for the girls 3rd/4th 5 Division. Their season was marked by a series of comeback victories and seemingly impossible feats. At the Cup, the Dolphins lost their first game to their archrival Wakefield 2-0 but then won their next two games 1-0 and 2-0 to finish the tournament with six points and on top of their group. Star striker Katherine Kennedy scored both of the game winners for the Dolphins during the tournament and the team MVP Ella Yorkey iced off the championship with a goal in the last five minutes.

THE MELROSE Girls’ 3rd/4th Grade Team Five Teal Dolphins were 2019 Commissioner’s Cup champions after coming back from a loss in the first game to win their next two and bring home the cup. Pictured in the first row from left to right is Ellie Nelson, Ella Yorkey, Emilia Buggy, Evelyn Cordella, Gemma Morse, Caroline Rappa and Quinn Beasley. In Front: Madelyn Whelpley. In the second row from left is coach Jeff Whelpley, Riley McBride, Isabella Diaz-Keel, Avery Bencal, Madison Bencal, Katherine Kennedy, Meryl Stratford, Charlotte Lange and coach Jason Buggy. (Courtesy Photo)

Girls’ 5th/6th grade Team One

After finishing undefeated and first in Division 1 (out of 62 teams) during the regular spring season (7-0-2) and with only one loss for the entire year (12-1-4), the 5th/6th-1 team returned to the Commissioner’s Cup to compete for a spot at the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions (MTOC) for the third year in a row for many of the kids on the team. There has never been a girls team in Melrose’s 39-year history that has ever qualified for postseason play in Division 1 or ever finished undefeated in Division 1 before this one. The team was also the end of the season indoor tournament champions at Danvers Indoor Sports and had seven different players score goals in the spring season.

That being said, the official statistics don’t begin to capture this group of girls. These girls worked hard and supported one another on and off the soccer field. This season the focus of many practices was on the players elevating their game by using both feet to pass and shoot, and increasing their soccer IQ generally, but specifically focusing on their movement off the ball and set pieces. The girls rose to the occasion and several players scored left-footed goals while through balls, give-and-goes and overlapping runs became signatures of this team. There were even a couple of goals off of set pieces.

Their coaches said they couldn’t be prouder of the team.

Girls’ 5th/6th Team Two

With a 4-2-3 record, the Girls’ 5th/6th grade Team Two qualified as the final and 4th seed by winning their last game of the season. The team played all three games of the Cup on the warm turf fields with only one substitute.

They lost their first two games 1-0, but played at a high level, creating opportunities to win or tie both games.

In their last game, they played a top-ranked, high-scoring Stoneham team that had beaten Melrose twice during the regular season.  With a win, Stoneham would earn the Cup. The girls played heroic team defense, turning back wave after wave of offensive attacks, and shut out Stoneham for a 0-0 tie that denied Stoneham the Cup.

The girls made the most of the tournament experience, performing exceptionally well under pressure. They executed several new plays that they learned just for the Cup, and played stifling defense, giving up only 0.67 goals per games against strong opposition.

The team would like to thank Melrose Youth Soccer and the Middlesex Youth Soccer League for a wonderful weekend.

Girls’ 7th/8th Team Three

Exhausted and happy, the 7th/8th Grade Team Three had a great weekend playing for the cup in their final game. The team came up short but showed great determination coming back from 2-0 deficit to tie before eventually giving up the winner.

Boys’ 3rd/4th Team Six

Melrose Boys 3rd/4th Team Six had a fantastic season, finishing undefeated at 9-0 in Division 5a with more than half the games decided by one goal.  The team ran up against tough competition in the Commissioners Cup and didn’t come away with a win, but were complimented by their referee at the end of the tournament for playing with a great attitude and showing great sportsmanship. Their coaches couldn’t be prouder of their team for receiving that compliment after a tough loss.

Boys’ 5th/6th Team Five

For the boys’ 5th/6th Team Five team and its coaches, this was their first experience at the Commissioner’s Cup. On Saturday, they started off strong with a 2-0 win over Lowell, the number two team from bracket A. In their second game against Charlestown the first place team in 5A, Charlestown scored on a deflection off of a Melrose defender to go up 1-0 at the half. Charlestown played a physical game and eventually won 4-0. It was Melrose’s first defeat of a flawless season.

But the team learned that every team that day won one game and lost one game. So Sunday was a fresh start. Their game was vs, Billerica, a team Melrose beat 3-1 at home during the regular season. They were fast and aggressive on the ball. Billerica took a 1-0 lead at the half.

In the second half, by switching their larger, faster players to defense, Melrose was able to contain Billerica’s offense and pressure their defense. Starting from the backfield, Melrose’s star striker scored a breakaway goal to tie the score. With just minutes left Melrose got a corner kick. It was a high ball that bounced in front of the goal and was popped up by a defender into the air over the goalie’s head and into the goal. Melrose was able to hold back Billerica for the final minutes and walk away with a win.

Charlestown won over Lowell, so both Charlestown and Melrose were tied at six points with two wins each, but because Charlestown beat Melrose on Saturday, they took first place. Melrose was ecstatic to have placed second in their division. The team ended the day with silver medals and smiles all around.

Boys’ 7th/8th Grade Team One

The boys’ Grade 7/8 Division 1 team was one of four teams to qualify for the Commissioner’s cup from the strongest competition that the Middlesex League has to offer.  Although they lost to Waltham in overtime, they held a lead until the last five minutes of regulation and represented our town well.

There is a right way to end a season and despite the result, the boys closed out the season with a fantastic effort and did the town proud. To have been five minutes shy of what might have been the best result for any U14 team in Melrose was just a shame but Waltham was a very good team and Melrose wished them well in the final and as probable representatives of Middlesex in the State competition.

The way in which the boys applied the game plan reflected on their intelligence and maturity in how to play what was a talented team. Their effort and tenacity in midfield was just outstanding. Looking to take their chances when they came, Melrose’s goal was a thing of beauty.. a great cross and Liam’s first-time finish just showed the class he has. He even gave the team a celebration and a smile to cherish!

It was great playing with excellent officials who praised the boys afterwards along with Waltham’s coach. With a small sized roster, the boys proved that effort with a little bit of quality can be a successful recipe – if they remember this in times of adversity on and off the pitch, they will be fine.