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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The 2018 season has served as the perfect revenge tour for the Wellesley High boys varsity soccer team, as the Raiders ousted two of their biggest rivals, Needham and Weymouth, en route to the Division I South title.
With the South title clinched and their eyes set on a state championship, Wellesley continued its revenge tour against North champions Lincoln-Sudbury on Wednesday night in the state semifinals at a frozen Manning Field in Lynn.
“[Revenge tour] is exactly what we’ve called it,” said head coach Tim Mason following Wednesday’s semifinal match. “We spoke at the start of the postseason, knowing that we were going to have the chance to play against a lot of the teams we’ve had some trouble with again in this tournament. We’ve sort of rallied behind that mentality of making a run and getting some revenge in the process.”
Oskar Haeberlein has been a centerpiece for Wellesley on offense all season long, leading the team in both goals and total points. Wednesday night in Lynn was no different. With 25:11 to play in the first half, the junior midfielder booted home a free kick with an absolutely perfect shot into the top left corner of the net to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.
“He’s full of confidence,” said Mason on Haeberlein. “He’s really improved every game this postseason, it seems. By his standards, he wasn’t that great in the Weymouth or Needham games, but he’s really come on after scoring that goal [against BC High] on Monday. He’s the league MVP, he led the team in goals and total points, and he steps up and makes big plays at big times.”
With 10:38 to play in the half, Haeberlein struck again, this time by hammering home a rebound at the net mouth to double Wellesley’s lead to 2-0 at halftime.
Wellesley continued to dominate the play following halftime. After peppering the LS end throughout the majority of the second half, Haeberlein delivered the dagger by completing the hat trick after dashing in on a breakaway, faking out the keeper, and depositing the ball into the back of the net to make it a 3-0 game with 13:44 remaining.
The final whistle blew, and Wellesley took the match, 3-0, to claim the Eastern Mass title and advance to Saturday’s state championship game against Ludlow.
“We had a good game plan,” said Mason of his team’s overall play following the win. “We had some good film on them and scouting reports. We did our homework and the guys went out and executed.”
On Saturday, the Raiders fell just short of a state title with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the state finals to Ludlow.
Despite the tough result, though, Wellesley boys soccer’s postseason run in 2018 was one for the record books. The Raiders won a total of 13 straight games, including the postseason, before their state final defeat.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.