Moments removed from sprinting onto Memorial Field in Braintree to celebrate his team’s Central Catholic League Cup title, Archbishop Williams boys’ soccer coach Brian Mitchell had to take a second to catch his breath.
“I think that’s the most I’ve run since [COVID-19] started,” Mitchell said, grinning through his mask.
The second-seeded Bishops outlasted fourth-seeded Bishop Fenwick, 2-1, in a captivating and evenly-matched final Saturday. Juniors Adam Stelljes and Nicolas de Souza both delivered in the first quarter for Archbishop Williams, which ultimately proved to be enough. Bishop Fenwick (10-2-4) sliced the deficit in half on an own goal set up by junior Jack Andrews late in the third quarter, but Archbishop Williams managed to hold the Crusaders off late.
Mitchell said it was extremely gratifying to play a full league schedule and be the last team standing in the CCL Cup in a most-unusual season.
“It’s amazing for these players, these seniors, these captains,” Mitchell said. “They’ve put all the work in. It puts a smile on your face when not many other things are doing it.”
Stelljes delivered exactly midway through the first quarter, corralling the ball and making one quick move before firing it from left to right into the bottom right corner. De Souza doubled the lead with less than two minutes left in the first when he slammed home a rebound from inside the box.
Mitchell said the first quarter was perhaps the most complete 20-minute stretch his team played all season.
Ryan Noci, Sean Campbell, and Keiron Murray all chipped in for the Crusaders in the second quarter. Bishop Fenwick generated more looks, and moved the ball crisply, but nothing materialized in the form of a goal. Despite a relatively even half, the Bishops were able to surge into the break with a comfortable 2-0 advantage.
Bishop Fenwick continued to up the energy from there, and the Crusaders were finally rewarded with 4:39 left in the third. Andrews barely beat Archbishop Williams goalie Nathan Morris in a foot race to the ball and flicked it over his head.
It bounced once, grazed the crossbar, and fell to the ground. Bishops defender Shawn Tracy had so much momentum, and was sprinting with so much vigor, that his momentum caused him to redirect the ball into the net for an own goal.
Noci and Andrews generated a few chances late, but Morris made every save he had to, including one in the final seconds where he aggressively sprinted to the ball dove on it.
“Looking at that clock, it felt like it was going forever,” Stelljes said. “Everyone grinded hard in the last five minutes. It’s an awesome feeling. There’s no other word to describe it.”
Hingham 2, Marshfield 1 — The Harbormen won the first Patriot Cup, and coach Ken Carlin said after the game that he hopes it’s their last.
“We said at the beginning of the year that we wanted to win the Patriot Cup, and we wanted to retire the Patriot Cup,” Carlin said. The tournament was invented because of the absence of the MIAA tournament due to COVID-19. In a normal year, the Harbormen and other Patriot League teams would be battling for statewide honors.
The Harbormen (9-3-3) began with a dominant first quarter, jumping out to a 2-0 lead, and largely sat back for the rest of the game. Senior forward Paul Forbes said they “parked the bus,” content to protect the lead.
Forbes opened the scoring when he streaked down the left wing just seven minutes into the game, took a pass from sophomore Cole Sampson for a partial breakaway and deposited a shot inside the left post to give the Harbormen an early lead.
“[Sampson] laid it in pretty nice through the ‘D’, I just took a little touch and volleyed it bottom left,” Forbes said.
Six minutes after Forbes’ tally, still in the first quarter, sophomore Aidan Brazel doubled the Harbormen’s lead. The forward ripped a shot off the crossbar and followed up on the rebound himself, knocking it in with his chest.
The game tightened up in the fourth quarter, forcing Hingham goalkeeper Trent Hesselman to make a number of strong saves to keep the lead. Marshfield (9-2-2) got on the board with a successful penalty kick by senior Logan Burns, which set off a frantic rush to the final whistle. Hingham was able to hold the line just long enough to win the first, and possibly last, Patriot Cup.
“This is pretty huge,” Forbes said. “Most of life isn’t really that normal right now. Being with these kids every day, having fun, making friends, is something special.”
Correspondent Charlie Wolfson contributed from Marshfield.