THERE WAS NOTHING blurry about John Summers’ game-winning goal against Stoneham on Thursday. It was clearly one of the most important strikes of the season for the Warriors. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the October 2, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Eighty minutes of soccer came down to eighty seconds.

That’s about how long it took for Wakefield (2-4-3) to respond to a devastating Stoneham goal that tied the game 1-1 with just under 12 minutes remaining during Thursday’s matchup at the Galvin. It was a tense, defensive game at that point. The Warriors hadn’t scored since halfway through the first half. A third tie in a row seemed inevitable.

Eighty seconds later, Wakefield’s John Summers tucked that notion in and put it to sleep; just like he tucked in a rocket off the left foot neatly into the upper-right corner of the goal to give Wakefield a massive 2-1 win, their first of the season.

“Unbelievable,” said Wakefield head coach Ilir Ujkaj when asked about his team’s response to Stoneham’s tying goal. “We wanted it. We deserved it. In soccer, sometimes you can play bad and win. We wanted to play good and win. We got the full package today.”

It was a true team victory. The Warriors, having tied Wilmington and Melrose 1-1 in their last two games, already knew what specifically their defense was capable of against the Spartans.

With Zach Fiore in net and captain Aidan Cusack, Josh Goc, Patrick Collins and Liam Bry all having solid games, Wakefield’s back line made it clear from the start that they wouldn’t be beat easily.

Moving up to the midfield, where the Warriors are really starting to find themselves, the play was creative and confident with an emphasis on possession. Colby Emerson on the left wing in to Joao Valdevino and Eric Keefe at center midfield, Wakefield has found a strong combination. Add in captains Josh Ell and Carter Margolis and this part of the field has shown rapid improvement nine games into the season.

“This was how I wanted them to play: passing, possession, no booting,” said Ujkaj. “It’s not the usual high school soccer but we want to build something in a different way.”

Up top, Ujkaj has the relentless Warriors he wants putting the pressure on defenses.

Wakefield’s first goal came 18 minutes into the game after controlling most of the possession. Just minutes after forward Anthony Pellegrino had a great shot on net that the Stoneham goalie made a terrific save one, Margolis and Summers worked the ball over to the right wing and found Valdevino at the top of the 18, right in the middle of the field with all four corners of the net an option. Valdevino chose the bottom right and buried it.

The Warriors all played their roles perfectly through the first half and into the second.

Brian Smith came off the bench and caused all sorts of problems for Stoneham’s defenders with his speed. Keefe controlled much of the play in the middle and Emerson continued to play beautiful crosses and had a great bid early in the second half.

Goc was especially impressive for the Warrior defense on the left side in the second half. He seemed to want the Spartan offense to continue to test his side of the field, and met every challenge almost literally head on.

Fiore followed a strong punch on a long free kick with the save of the game on an odd-man rush with 23 minutes left.

Summers zipped through Spartan defenders moving right to left across the field and found Emerson who once again just missed after another great save from the Stoneham goalie. It felt like the Warriors were close to ending it with another goal, but just then, the Spartans struck on a corner kick, with the ball getting past the traffic in front and going in by the far post.

Wakefield didn’t flinch.

It was a physical, emotional game at this point. Nobody told Eric Keefe that. The composed center-mid calmly maintained possession into Stoneham territory and with his head up found Valdevino who quickly created space and dropped it off for Summers. The junior striker did the rest.

The feeling was a combination of pure joy with a dash of relief. With three 1-1 ties on the year, Wakefield needed to get in the win column.

“It would have been a shame or pity if we tied I have to be honest,” said Ujkaj no doubt echoing the feeling of this competitive group. “The first win always feels better.”


Wakefield liked the one-goal win over Stoneham enough to do it again on Saturday. Playing in Burlington, the defense once again stepped up and Fiore got his first shutout of the year.

It was an extremely close game, but both teams were playing for the win rather than the tie. The Warriors stepped up in the second half and controlled possession. Wakefield broke the tie late in the second on a goal by Carter Margolis. Summers picked up the assist and the Warriors picked up a vital win at this point of the season.

Wakefield had a great four-game stretch against the Middlesex League’s Freedom Division with ties against Wilmington and Melrose and wins against Stoneham and Burlington. They bring that four-game unbeaten streak into a three-game stretch against Liberty Division foes Arlington, Woburn and Belmont. Wakefield hosts Arlington tomorrow at 5 p.m.