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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Already without Rory Clare due to a stress reaction in her leg, the Wellesley Raiders’ girls’ soccer team had to replace Elisabeth Rourke early in the first half of a scoreless game after a head-to-head collision. She would spend the rest of the game on the bench with sunglasses on, nursing a likely concussion.
Undoubtedly feeling the effects of suddenly finding themselves without these two great players, the Wellesley Raiders would be blanked by Dover-Sherborn, 3-0.
Shortly after the collision, Dover-Sherborn’s Cerys Balmer took the ball down the right sideline and crossed it to Mica Bodkins for the game’s first goal. Later in the first half, Kate Mastrobuono would bury a header into the back of the net off a well-placed corner, and though Wellesley had some corner opportunities themselves at the end of the half, nothing came from them. Dover-Sherborn led 2-0 at the break.
In the second half, Wellesley’s goalkeeper made some nice stops to keep the game close. Unfortunately, one of those stops rebounded directly onto the foot of Annie Parizeau, who scored the final goal of the game.
While Dover-Sherborn coach Evren Gunduz didn’t want to point out any individual player for what he considered such a great team win, he heaped loads of praise on Wellesley’s coach Roger Bothe. The two became friends after doing some camps together and starting coaching at their respective schools the same year.
“I think this is a really good battle of two very talented teams,” said Gunduz. “Wellesley’s extremely well coached; Tim and Roger do an awesome job. I know them outside of soccer, outside of high school, and they’re just phenomenal coaches. So I think you give props to both teams for working hard. Today our players really executed well and played hard for each other.”
While noting that his team’s mantra is to get one percent better every day, and that they pay little attention to rankings or standing, Coach Gunduz seemed happiest to watch his kids enjoy playing in such a high-level matchup.
“I think this is definitely a players’ win today against a really good Wellesley team that’s going to have a deep tournament run - especially if they can get some of their better players healthy. But overall, it was just fun to watch the girls be out there having a good time with the sport that they love … I think that’s what showed through today, was their passion. Both teams have a lot of accomplished players, so it was good to see a battle of good soccer.”
After the tough loss, Wellesley coach Roger Bothe talked about how great a coach Gunduz is, while noting that their mutual respect for each other was bound to become a friendship. About the day, however, he declared that “The girls didn’t show up mentally. They were not here.” Part of that mental block was likely being without two players, who are a huge part of the system Wellesley employs.
“When you’re missing your top two players, it hurts your system so much because our system depends a lot on pace. You have to have speed, a lot of endurance, and you have to chase. You have to do the dirty work and they both have that mentality that they’re going to do whatever it takes to get that ball back. I respect it, I love it. They’re both like champions, they’re flat-out winners. I think it definitely played a role, unfortunately, but it’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Luckily, the Wellesley Raiders had a chance to quickly get the loss behind them with a trip to Braintree.
“We’ll fight again tomorrow, which is fortunate. We’ll go to Braintree tomorrow, and I think it’s fortunate to have a turnaround so quickly, because it gives the girls a chance to redeem themselves. Everyone has a crappy game - we all remember being young and having that bad game - but they’re going to redeem it tomorrow, come back, play our style and keep the ball and knock it around and high press when we don’t have the ball. So, they’ll be better.”
Unfortunately for the Wellesley Raiders, the Braintree game would be a 1-0 loss. Still, both Wellesley and Dover-Sherborn will be fine with such young, knowledgeable and positive coaches behind them.
But don’t take my word for it.