ZACH FIORE covers up in traffic during the second half following an early candidate for save of the year on a breakaway against Reading at Walton Field on Friday night. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the September 11, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The WMHS boys’ soccer team hosted Reading on Friday night at the Galvin’s Walton Field, looking to bounce back from a season opening loss to Winchester two days earlier.

The Warriors showed plenty of potential and toughness but ultimately fell 2-1 as the Rockets scored the winning goal with about 13 minutes remaining in the game.

Wakefield showed some good resiliency fighting back from a 1-0 deficit in the first half.

It was about as even as a match can get with the majority of time spent fighting for 50/50 balls and winning possession in the air. That type of game is right up the ally of many Warriors, especially members of the defense including senior captain Aidan Cusack and senior Nick Connor.

More on that later.

The Rockets got on the board first with a long, well-struck shot from past the 18 that Wakefield goalie Zach Fiore got a piece of but not enough to stop it from trickling in for a 1-0 Reading lead.

The Warriors retreated just a bit right after the goal as a now swarming Rocket opposition controlled much of the possession for the majority of the final minutes of the first half. It took a little free kick magic and some expertise in the air from the aforementioned Cusack and Connor to get Wakefield level late in the half.

With a kick set up on the left side right in-between the 18 and midfield, Wakefield head coach Ilir Ujkaj gave the nod to left-footed junior Colby Emerson who played a beautiful ball into the box that Connor got to first. The tall defenseman who played well on the back end all night for Wakefield, redirected it to the far right post and nearly scored as the ball bounced off the woodwork and landed right in front of Cusack, who used a little of his basketball know-how to box out and secure the rebound before swiftly finding the black of the net for the equalizer with just over three minutes left to halftime.

Emerson created a nice cross once again just seconds later, this time in live action but the Reading goalie made a quality save and the teams went into the break tied at 1.

A more cautious and guarded approach was adopted by both teams in the second half.

Striker John Summers doesn’t exactly love that type of soccer as he continued a relentless push and constructed havoc for the Reading defense early in the frame.

Summers’ effort earned a corner about nine minutes in and captain Joshua Ell sent in a cross that Cusack got to in the air and nearly headed in for his second goal, as the ball missed by just inches.

Wakefield’s strong second half start continued, specifically on the left side with Summers and Emerson but a lighting quick counter from Reading forced what could be the save of the year from Fiore who charged out and dove to meet an oncoming Rocket on a breakaway, halting the ball and player all in one motion like a tennis ball hitting a brick wall. Fiore had to stay alert as just seconds later, a scrum in front put the ball on the doorstep but the keeper dove amongst the cleats and ripped it away from traffic to preserve the tie.

That cranked the energy up to a new high as both teams made it very clear that a draw wasn’t in the game plan.

Captain Carter Margolis had a good bid on a looping shot that just missed. Defenseman Eric Keefe put together a nice game on the right side and won another close ball right before Fiore made another strong stop coming up to snag a cross out of the air on a free kick. Then, with just over 13 minutes to play, the Rockets attacked and quickly switched fields, creating an odd-man situation that they would capitalize on for a 2-1 lead as the visiting bench broke into cries of jubilation.

Wakefield kept fighting amongst another swarming, high-energy Reading attack following the go-ahead goal but they held strong with Patrick Collins blocking a shot that was heading straight for the back of the net.

Wakefield will again want to work on maintaining possession after giving up a goal, however, they did get a chance in stoppage time on a corner but the Reading keeper caught it in the air and the game was whistled over.

While no doubt a tough result, the Warriors must quickly move on as they are back to league play on Thursday this week on the road against a talented Lexington team.