Upsets #2 seed Pentucket, 1-0, now fighting for D3N title

Published in the November 10, 2017 edition

RED RAIDER soccer players swarm Melrose keeper Jared Dowell after he clinched victory after an overtime PK shootout. The 1-0 win advances Melrose to the Div. 3 State Semifinals.(courtesy photo)

By JENNIFER GENTILE

MELROSE—The Melrose Red Raider boy’s soccer team stunned in Div. 3 North playoff action by knocking off #2 seed Pentucket, 1-0, in a PK shoot out after a scoreless double overtime in front of a large crowd at Pentucket Regional High School on Monday.

Melrose (10-4-6) battled to a 0-0 draw and after two overtime periods were forced to line up for a penalty kick shootout during a rainy and muddy slugfest. Melrose seniors Pete Wiesen, Sava Vlajkovic and Owen Thorsteinsson got the job done, outshooting Pentucket 3-2 while Melrose Red Raider Jared Dowell had the game of his career, fending off a high shot by Pentucket’s Jake Messier to clinch victory. 

Melrose head coach Dean Serino saluted the team after the game. “The team played physically and mentally tough, they constantly got each other’s back and picked each other up.”

Melrose played to a draw all of regulation, with a steady ran causing slippery conditions and making it difficult for both sides to organize their offense. Melrose’s best scoring opportunities came as the first half drew to a close with Melrose taking several corner kicks that put pressure on the Sachem’s net minder, Alec Perrotti. After halftime, Melrose’s Shea Champagne had several chances at the net but missed while the Sachems threatened Melrose with several shots but Dowell held the stalemate. 

At end of regulation, the Red Raiders and Sachems battled a scoreless game for two overtime periods until the they reached the PK shootout. 

Melrose sent out Shea Champagne, Pete Wiesen, Sava Vlajkovic and Owen Thorsteinsson to shoot against Pentucket goalie Alec Perrotti. After a Sachem miss by Conor Logan, Melrose’s Thorsteinsson came out first and nailed a shot through the arms of Perrotti, to give Melrose a 1-0 lead. The Sachems tied things up when a shot by Jake Dickson made it past Dowell at the net, and an attempt by Melrose’s Shea Champagne was blocked. At 1-1, pressure was on Sava Vlajkovic to deliver and he came through with a shot past the goalie, putting Melrose up 2-1. But Pentucket tied things up again when Liam McDonough hit a goal to make it a 2-2 game.

With only one attempt left, Melrose bought up senior captain Pete Wiesen, who battled intense noise level and slippery conditions but delivered a game- clincher past the arms of Perrotti, making it 3-2 Melrose.  

Pentucket’s last shot put all the pressure on Jared Dowell’s shoulders. The senior goalie had been a standout all season, clinching many shutouts over the season. And he didn’t fail. As Jake Messier lined up and shot, Dowell dove left and deflected the ball to land behind the soccer post, and the Red Raiders team erupted on the field.

Coach Serino lauded Dowell for his work. “Jared played with tons of confidence. He rose to the occasion and came up huge in a big moment.”

Jared Dowell spoke after the game about the intensity of that moment. “I just picked a side, see what kind of foot they have, and try to read them and know where to go. It was a really intense but great moment.”

With the win, Melrose (at press time) advances to face Dracut in the Div. 3 North Semifinals on Wednesday at Manning Field in Lynn at 7:00 p.m. The winner of that game goes on to battle for the Div. 3 North Championship on Sunday at Manning Field at a time TBD. Fans are encouraged to visit www.miaa.net for up to date playoff information.