Senior captain and defender Mac Turner (2) hits a ball up the sideline. Photos by Mike Flanagan and Scott Wittlin.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The last time Needham and Walpole High School boys soccer met on September 21 in Walpole, Mitchell Wilson broke a 2-2 tie late with a perfectly timed and executed header to lift the Rockets to a 3-2 victory. On Thursday, the two Herget Division rivals met for the second and final time this season at DeFazio Field, with Needham looking to complete the season sweep.
With 29:34 to play in the first half, Needham drew first blood. A great ball up the seam by Ryan Kirschner found its way to Marco Flano streaking to the cage. Flano corralled the ball, wiggled his way around Walpole goalie Kaden Winter and deposited home the ball into the back of the goal to give Needham a 1-0 lead. Matt Brayer nearly doubled the lead to 2-0 for Needham during stoppage time at the end of the first half, but an amazing diving save by Winter kept the game 1-0 at the break.
Needham maintained their one-goal edge until 36:39 to play in the second half, when Walpole was awarded a free kick from about 20 yards out on the left side of the frame. Senior captain and forward Christian Brownsword took the kick for Walpole and bent home an absolutely perfect lefty boot over Needham's defensive wall just inside the left post to tie the game at one.
Following Brownsword's equalizer, Flano responded for Needham and completely took over the game. With 28:02 to play, Flano was fed a perfect cross from Matt Brayer and hammered home a header to reclaim the lead for the Rockets at 2-1. Just over four minutes later, Brayer and Flano hooked up once again with Brayer feeding a ball to Flano at the net-mouth for another header into the back of the net to make it 3-1. Following Flano's hat-trick completion, Llyod-Sho Akai-Dennis sealed the win with about 18 minutes left for Needham by burying a cross from senior captain Marcus Trabucco at the net-mouth.
The Rockets prevailed by the 4-1 final to move to 8-3-2 on the season. The loss dropped Walpole to 3-8-1.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.