Brookline Soccer Knocks Off Somerville, Heads to Final
Warriors end play off hopes for Highlanders with 2-1 victory.
The Brookline High soccer team is through to the Division 1 North Sectional final.
The 13th seeded Warriors knocked off No. 17 Somerville 2-1 yesterday at Arlington High School in a dramatic, hard-fought semifinal contest that hinged on a single score, and ultimately could have gone either way.
Brookline got goals from juniors Tito Curran and Eric Buck, while the Highlanders' tally came off the boot of Murilo Zanette.
Somerville wraps up an impressive season with a mark of 12-6-4, but will now have the rest of the offseason to reflect upon what might have been had things gone just slightly differently at Arlington High. The Warriors stand at 14-2-6, and will face Newton North at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Manning Field in Lynn in an all Bay State Carey division North Sectional Final.
"They got us early," lamented Somerville head coach George Scarpelli. "We watched the first 20 minutes, then moved some stuff around and dominated the second half. But, you know, we've got to get shots on goal, and we've got to attack the net, and it didn't work today . . . its been a great season."
The Warriors drew first blood with 16:44 left in the first half, when Curran fired in a low bullet from the left side, that caromed off the outstretched arms of senior Somerville keeper Bruno Souza and trickled into the right corner of the net.
Somerville bounced back however, much as they have all season, and as usual, central defender Toby Moynihan was absolutely brilliant on the backline for the Highlanders, forcing the play out wide, and cutting out nearly every ball that came his way.
One of the biggest factors for the Warriors was their astute containment of Somerville playmaker Homero Morais, who was never really able to get going in the opening frame and found himself swarmed by enemy jerseys whenever the ball came his way.
"They neutralized Homero a little," said Scarpelli. "We had to move him around a little bit, but he's still a special player . . . it's just unlucky, that's all."
"Obviously (Morais) was the most dangerous player on the field," said Brookline head coach Jeff Katz. "They played him in midfield . . . I figured they were going to move him up top in the second half, because why wouldn't you put your best player up top?"
Morais and Moynihan are amongst a handful of Highlanders who saw their brilliant careers at Somerville High come to an abrupt end yesterday, and the sense of urgency displayed by the Highlanders during the second half reflected that fact.
Somerville switched formation and came out attacking after halftime, and it took a great display of team defense from the Warriors to keep an equalizer out of their net.
"They changed formation which gave us a lot of trouble," said Katz. "We never really practiced against a 3-4-3 before, so it really took our wingers understanding how to change the way they played a little bit, because they're used to seeing one picture all the time against most formations, and I thought they did a great, great job defending."
The Warriors ultimately capitalized off of Somerville's attacking mentality, as no sooner had Morais loosed a shot that sailed wide of the Brookline net, then Buck converted a picture-perfect low shot off the counter-attack on the other end to give the Warriors a 2-0 advantage with 29:51 left in the game.
Just eight minutes later, Somerville stormed back into the match when a fortuitous bounce from an attempted clearance saw Zanette with the ball at his feet and only Brookline netminder Matt Hillman in front of him. Zanette wasted no time in sending the ball past Hillman and the Highlanders fans into raptures with a powerful strike at the 21:55 mark.
The suddenly reinvigorated Highlanders battled hard and were able to get off a few decent chances at the net, but Brookline's backline ultimately held fast and sealed the win for the jubilant Warriors.
"It feels awesome," said Brookline senior midfielder Keith Chernin. "It was a team effort. I really think everything comes from how much we work together and how much we care for each other."
"Somerville was definitely one of the toughest opponents we've played," said Brookline senior striker Jacob Ebbs. "(Morais) was by far the best player we've played against . . . they really brought it in the second half, and it took everything we had to stop them."
It will no doubt require a similar effort to earn the right to call themselves champions, as Brookline must now face divisional rival Newton North. For the Highlanders, on the other hand, the time to reflect upon a great season that ultimately fell short of the championship game by the slimmest of margins is at hand.
"We didn't switch the fields enough," said Scarpelli. "When you switch the fields you get a better shot . . . we kind of played a little nervous at the beginning, which hurt us."