Lynnfield coach Brent Munroe knew his team would be defending for the majority of Monday’s Division 3 North semifinal. Watertown, the higher seed, did outshoot the Pioneers, 16-6.
But behind the stellar play of junior Dante Gesamondo (15 saves) — whom Munroe believes is the best goalie in the section — Lynnfield hung on for a 2-1 victory over Watertown at St. John’s Prep in Danvers.
“We knew we just needed to defend like crazy and hope we put one or two in and get a little luck,” Munroe said.
The 10th-seeded Pioneers (12-8-1) will play Bedford in Saturday’s North final at Manning Field in Lynn.
Lynnfield got a momentous first goal in the 17th minute from senior captain Thomas Buston, allowing Munroe to go defensive. And when freshman Alexander Gentile doubled the margin in the 63rd minute, on a Henry Caulfield assist, it became easier.
“[Watertown was] going to spend 80 percent of the game in our end no matter what the score was,” Munroe said. “It’s a lot easier to do it with a lead, because you know even if you give up a goal, you’re still in it.
“We converted on two of our four chances and they converted on one of their 50.”
Throughout, and especially in the second half, Gesamondo fended off shot after shot from the Raider attack. One of the most dramatic came in the 55th minute, when Watertown mid Arthur Metzker lined up a free kick from right above the box. Gesamondo dove to his right to knock it outside the post.
“I love the shots outside the 18,” Gesamondo said. “When we get up 1-0, we like to lock down the fort. It drained us a little, but we kept fighting back.”
Munroe said having a top-notch goalie has been key in the tournament, since the Pioneers “maybe aren’t the best team,” but keep winning. Gesamondo relished being the lynchpin.
“I like the pressure,” Gesamondo said. “I obviously play a big role because that’s how we’ve been playing all season. We haven’t had many blowout wins. That’s how we play and it’s been working out.”
Junior Nicholas DiPace connected for Watertown (14-5-2) in the 78th minute, but the rally ended there.
Division 1 North
Medford 8, Andover 0 — France Kely had a night most soccer players could only dream of at Manning Field in Lynn.
The Medford senior forward scored four goals and added two more assists to lead the Mustangs (17-3-1) over Andover in the D1 North semifinal. Senior captain Aaron Vaz also scored twice, and senior Kendy Prince and junior Aidan Falvey each added goals.
“[Kely] started us off and that was just the beginning of it,” said Medford coach Mike Petrides. “He’s a force for us. He’s been like that the whole year.”
Kely spent his freshman and sophomore years at Cambridge Rindg & Latin, transferring to Medford halfway through last season.
“I’ve played a lot of soccer games,” said Kely. “But this one was probably one of the best games.”
No. 4 seed Medford will play defending sectional champ No. 3 seed Lincoln-Sudbury for the D1 North crown.
It only took a few minutes for Medford to take the lead, with Prince scoring off a pass from Kely in the game’s opening moments. Kely scored three more goals in the first half to complete his hat trick, and added a fourth early in the second half before exiting the game with twenty minutes remaining.
Petrides began removing his starters ten minutes into the second half.
“It wasn’t a matter of trying to get more goals or trying to embarrass anybody,” Petrides said.
“We had to put some new people in and close out the game.”
No. 16 seed Andover (11-8-3) made a run to the D1 North semifinal after starting out their season 2-5-2.
Division 3 North
Bedford 1, Newburyport 0 — The Buccaneers pressed all game, controlling play for virtually the entire afternoon without a goal. They even struck the crossbar four times in the second half, but to no avail.
“It was very frustrating,” said senior Marcus Voss.
Finally, in the 68th minute, the Bucs hit another crossbar off the foot of Dexter Kennedy. The ball stayed in bounds, though, and Voss was able to head it in to give his team a late lead. Bedford held on, advancing to face Lynnfield on Saturday in the D3 North final in Lynn.
“It looked like it was going over but I followed it up just in case, and it hit the crossbar,” Voss said. “It was like our fifth crossbar. The goalie was on the ground so I just went up and headed it in.”
Bedford coach Dave Boschetto said the Bucs (17-1-1) didn’t waver from their gameplan even after the ball refused to go in the net for 60 minutes.
“We stuck with it and stuck with it and didn’t settle for stuff, and we finally got the one we needed” Boschetto said.
“We hit the bar four times, and we stayed focused and finished it off the bar”
Division 4 North
Burke 2, Rockport 0 — A high-powered offense guided Burke in its first two state tournament games. But in the D4 North semifinals, it was the Bulldogs’ defense which took center stage at Winthrop High.
Freshman striker Domingos Tavares netted a goal in each half and the Bulldogs defense did the rest, controlling Rockport’s attack with its speed and physicality.
Fifth-seeded Burke (16-5-1), which has outscored opponents 13-2 in three postseason games, advances to play in Sunday’s sectional final at Manning Field in Lynn against Manchester Essex.
“We know in a state tournament to go deep, you need to play well defensively,” said Burke coach Joao Barros. “What we’ve been practicing every day is play better defensively.”
Tavares broke the tie in the 29th minute when he fired a left-footed shot inside a crowded box into the bottom left corner of the net. The eighth-seeded Vikings (11-5-5) searched for the equalizer for the remainder of the match, but the Burke backline, led by star center back Adelcio Fontes, closed the door on every opportunity in front of keeper Lourenco Pereira.
In the 75th minute, the Bulldogs countered a Rockport push and Tavares made a move on the goalkeeper in the open field, sealing the victory with an empty-net goal.
“I was ready for the game and I was really excited after I scored the goals,” said Tavares through a translator.
Manchester Essex 2, Essex Tech 0 — Powered by first-half goals from Naderson Curtis and Kellen Furse and an all-around stout performance, the second-seeded Hornets earned their third trip to the North final in four seasons, blanking Essex Tech at Winthrop High.
Manchester Essex (15-2-4), which dropped back-to-back sectional finals to Boston International in 2016 and 2017, will get the opportunity to come through in that spot again on Sunday at Manning Field in Lynn against another City League team, Burke.
“We dropped those games against Boston International because we were nervous,” said Furse, a senior captain who played in both games against the Terriers. “We have go to into the sectional final not nervous, like we belong here. Because we do.”
Essex Tech’s physicality made life difficult for the Hornets’ possession-style system, but Manchester Essex took advantage of the limited opportunities. In the 27th minute, Curtis heeled a shot from inside the box that deflected off a Hawks’ defender and into the net.
Minutes before halftime, Furse streaked down the right side and was tackled inside the box. The Cape Ann League MVP promptly buried the penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
Jacob Edwards and Kai Carroll controlled the game from the center back position, while Furse dominated in the midfield, limiting Essex Tech’s (15-4-3) scoring chances. Goalkeeper Finnian Carlson also made a pair of impressive saves to preserve the shutout.
“It was just a great team win,” said Manchester Essex coach Rob Bilsbury. “I thought there was just great team play all around. I’m proud of the boys.”
Division 1 Central
Leominster 3, Westborough 2 (SO) — The Blue Devils prevailed in PKs, with a 5-4 margin, to advance to the final against St. John’s.
St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 1, Shrewsbury 0 — Junior Matt McLellan sent the top-ranked Pioneers (16-1-3) to the D1 Central final when he scored the lone goal of the game with 16 minutes left in regulation.
Division 4 South
Atlantis Charter 5, Cape Cod Tech 1 — Two goals from junior Ronaldo Rubeiro broke open the game for the fourth-seeded Tritons (13-3-5), who advanced to the D4 South final forthe first time. Rubiero assisted on the game’s first two goals in the first half, the first to Luis Flores and the second to Andre Filho-Coelho.
Cohasset 3, Carver 1 — Kyle Osborne, Kevin Federle, and Alex Norgeot netted the goals for the second-seeded Skippers (15-1-5), who advanced to their fourth consecutive South final with the over the third-seeded Crusaders (14-5).
Matt MacCormack reported from Lynn and Matt Doherty from Winthrop.