By MARC GAGNE
WAKEFIELD — On their home turf last Wednesday afternoon, the Wakefield varsity boys’ soccer team was back to its winning ways, notching another solid win against a Middlesex League rival.
Captain Darragh Casey received a pass and almost scored in the first minute of the team’s game against Stoneham with a shot just left of the goal. The tone was set then for a dominant offensive performance by Wakefield as they came away with a 4-1 win, their fourth victory in a row, and fifth in their last six games.
Additional early action included a number of corner kicks booted in front of the Stoneham goalie by Elias Anjim and chances at the goal were taken by captain Brian Purcell and Jack Millward. Wakefield continued to keep the ball on Stoneham’s side for most of the first half. Captain Marc Laverdiere kicked two strong passes to Casey, but both ended up being just out of reach.
Casey kept firing shots throughout the half at various times and Purcell and Frankie Leone impressed on the defensive end with a number of plays.
Wakefield scored its first goal on a cross from Anjim into the box. Millward ran in from the middle to try to finish the ball, but it was just too far in front of him. Thankfully, the ball kept going until it reached Leone standing to the right of the goal. Leone quickly shot the ball into the bottom right corner to score his first goal of the season.
It is usually difficult for defenders to score but Leone had a significant presence across the entire field throughout the game, constantly hustling down and back to make plays.
Wakefield almost scored again when captain Reid Festel had an incredible pass to Millward placed right near his head so that Millward tried to head the ball in but just missed the net to the right.
Casey had a couple more shots and then capitalized on a pass he received from Anjim, dribbling around multiple defenders and finishing in the bottom left corner. The Stoneham goalie had no time to react to the speed of Casey’s shot and Wakefield led 2-0.
The first half ended with shots from Leone, Purcell, Anjim, Millward and freshman Guy Revah, along with a nice defensive play by Aidan Bligh. Throughout the half and the whole game, the Wakefield players appeared to move the ball around the Stoneham defenders with ease, clearly outplaying Stoneham.
The boys started the second half like the first with an immediate chance to score. Casey finished a cross from Anjim into the net, but the referee called a questionable push off, taking back the goal.
Wakefield came right back just a minute later when Casey dribbled up the right side and crossed to Millward in the box, who finished from the middle for his third goal of the season, putting Wakefield on top, 3-0.
Although Warrior goalie Andrew Valley did not have to do much because of the ability of the Wakefield players to control the game so well, he did have a few important saves in the second half.
Meanwhile, Wakefield continued to put shots on goal, but the Stoneham goalie had an incredible performance in the net, stopping many shots that definitely could have been goals.
With 24 minutes left in the game, Wakefield scored its fourth goal when Millward passed down the right side to Casey, who put it in at a tough angle for his seventh of the season.
Two minutes later, Stoneham got on the board with a shot from the left side. Valley made a diving attempt for a save, but the shot was beautifully placed just out of his reach.
Shots from Revah, Casey, Festel, Laverdiere, and Charles Gagne followed, but the Stoneham goalie made many amazing saves to keep the score at 4-1. Stoneham almost scored a second goal toward the end of the game on a ball that got past Valley and was bouncing toward the net but Purcell sprinted and kicked the ball out of the area in time.
When asked about how the team was able to dominate the game so well, head coach Matt Angelo said, “We have been really good offensively. I would have loved to have had a shutout, but Stoneham got a really good goal late. But defensively the team has been outstanding as well.
“Something that I have been preaching this season and something that we had been struggling with last season, is consistency. I think we’re seeing a lot of good, consistent play, hard work and effort. 4-1 is a good score, but I think we could have gotten 5, 6, 7, 8 or more because we had so many good looks on net today, but their goalie played phenomenal. Right now, we are firing on all cylinders.”
The Warriors (5-2), who shut out Burlington 6-0 on Sept. 23 at Concord-Carlisle’s Kicks for Cancer event, are now 4-0 against Middlesex League Freedom Division teams. They’ve averaged 4 goals per game in those wins and will look to keep it going against Freedom opponent Watertown (4-5) today, 4:30 p.m. at Walton Field. The Raiders are on a two-game winning streak, beating Wilmington 3-1 on Sept. 27 and Stoneham 1-0 on Friday. They are 3-1 in Freedom Division play.