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Raider soccer falls just short in thriller

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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Following a 15-2-1 regular season and a Bay State Conference title, the Wellesley High School boys varsity soccer team earned the No. 2 seed in the Division I South Sectionals. The Raiders took down No. 15 BC High (4-1) in the first round on Saturday, setting up a quarterfinal date with Bay State Conference rival and No. 7. Weymouth on Tuesday afternoon at WHS.

Despite leading throughout the majority of the game and controlling most the bulk of possession time, the Raiders fell 3-2 on penalty kicks, concluding an incredible season.

Danny Frei (11) celebrates his a goal 15 minutes into the game with teammate Brendan Clare (9) as the Raider sideline enters a state of pandemonium in the background.

Danny Frei (11) celebrates his a goal 15 minutes into the game with teammate Brendan Clare (9) as the Raider sideline enters a state of pandemonium in the background.

Danny Frei got the Raiders on the board first with 25:47 remaining in the first half when the sophomore booted a left-footed rocket just inside the right post from about 15 yards away, sending the Wellesley sideline into a frenzy as the Raiders went ahead 1-0. Junior goalkeeper Anders Pineau made a series of sprawling saves near the end of the first half, both on Weymouth corner kicks, preserving a 1-0 Raider lead at halftime.

Wellesley continued to control the tempo of the game on offense throughout the majority of the second half. Pineau made another incredible save 10 minutes into the second half when he dove to his right on a Weymouth free kick and snared the ball out of mid-air to preserve the 1-0 lead. Senior captain and defender Ryan Mohan made a huge slide-tackle 15 minutes into the second half that prevented a one-on-one between a Weymouth attacker and Pineau.

P.J. Genta (22) avoids a slide tackle and moves in for a shot on goal midway through the second half.

P.J. Genta (22) avoids a slide tackle and moves in for a shot on goal midway through the second half.

With about 12 minutes to play, P.J. Genta broke in for a one-on-one with the Weymouth goalkeeper, and after navigating the ball around, Genta was hurried by a pursing Wildcat defender and pushed the shot just wide of the net, as the Wellesley lead remained at just one. A little less than two minutes later with 10:43 remaining, Weymouth finally drew even, heading in a corner kick. Just 15 seconds after the equalizer by Weymouth, however, Ryan Clare broke in from midfield, got by two Weymouth defenders, and deposited the ball into the back right corner of the net to reclaim the lead for Wellesley at 2-1 with 10:28 to play.

Ryan Clare (8) tries to navigate the ball through a diving Weymouth goalkeeper and a pursuing Wildcat defender late in the first half.

Ryan Clare (8) tries to navigate the ball through a diving Weymouth goalkeeper and a pursuing Wildcat defender late in the first half.

Will Manning (26) heaves the ball in for Wellesley.

Will Manning (26) heaves the ball in for Wellesley.

Wellesley’s second lead of the game was short-lived, however, as with 8:38 to play, Weymouth re-tied the game at two via a header on a free kick. Weymouth learned from their previous mistake of allowing Wellesley to storm right down the field following a restart, locking down the alleys to thwart another tie-breaking goal by the Raiders and forcing overtime.

A scoreless overtime period led the game into a second overtime. Ryan Clare almost won it for Wellesley in double overtime when the senior broke in for a one-on-one with the Weymouth goalkeeper, but after navigating almost completely around the Wildcat keeper, Clare’s shot was deflected at the last second just past the post, keeping the game tied at the end of the second overtime and forcing penalty kicks to decide the fate of the game.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, who went four-for-five on penalty kicks, Weymouth was a perfect five-for-five, earning the Wildcats a 3-2 upset victory and a spot in the South semifinals on Thursday against Needham.

For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.

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