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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Monday night, The Needham Rockets girls soccer team moved to 6-2-2, downing the Walpole Rebels, 4-1.
The first half was tight until - depending on which team you were rooting for - either a terrible foul by Walpole’s Shannon English or a terrible call by the referees. Two players (who were nowhere near the ball) got tangled up and ended up on the ground. The referee awarded a free kick for Needham just outside the box, which Madeline Ledbury put over the wall and into the back of the net. Minutes later, another Walpole penalty resulted in a second goal from Ledbury, who scored off a long cross into the box.
While Walpole Coach Brian Borde responded to the question of what went wrong with a simple “everything,” he pointed to these two goals as the pivotal moment in the game.
“They got a ghost free kick, but a free kick nonetheless,” he said. “They scored it and the game went downhill after that. It changed the game. They had two free kicks, two set plays, and they scored on both of them. We chased the rest of the game.”
Needham scored again to go up 3-0 early in the second half, before a goal from Walpole’s Kaelyn Briscoe moved the game to 3-1. A long free kick from Brooke Walonis, which would have cut the lead to one goal, just sailed over the crossbar before another Needham goal made the game 4-1 with about fourteen minutes left.
Then the lights went out.
No, the lights didn’t go out in a Dandy Don Meredith “Monday Night Football” way, with one team up 4-1 and not enough time for a comeback; the lights literally went out for around twenty minutes.
While he praised the play of Sophie St. George, Coach Borde was unsatisfied with his team overall.
“We didn’t create enough chances,” he said. “They were the better team and Caroline Hood destroyed us again. Until we learn to defend the best players in the league, we won’t beat the better teams in the league.”
On the winning side, Coach Carl Tarabelli applauded Ledbury’s hat trick, Alison Tunney’s first goal of the season, and Coral Wainwright’s performance in net, while pointing out the goalkeeper issues the team was dealing with - issues that fans likely were unaware of.
“I’m very pleased,” said Coach Tarabelli. “We’re a really young team. We’ve got five freshman and four of them start, so every game, we’re trying to get better. Our goalie was out today - she had a bad back - so we had to rotate one of our field players in and we brought our JV goalie up in the second half. They both came through in a big way … We just capitalized on our opportunities, so I’m excited.”
For captain Anda Gravlin, the team’s heart stuck out.
“We never quit,” said Gravlin. “We knew they were going to be tough coming out right off the pitch and we played them hard the entire game. We probably came out, not as hard as we wanted to, but never gave up. I’m proud of the girls for having so much heart.”
Captain Tatum McShane, meanwhile, applauded the team-wide contributions.
“It was a solid eighty-minute game and everyone on the team contributed,” she said. “It was good everyone got to play and was a part of each goal.”