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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
2016 left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of the Dover-Sherborn Regional High School boys soccer team after the No. 2 Raiders got knocked out at home (3-2 in penalty kicks) by Martha’s Vineyard in the quarterfinal round of the Division III South Sectionals last November.
This season, the Raiders earned the No. 4 seed in DIII South after a 12-2-4 record and their second consecutive outright TVL title. DS took down No. 13 Middleboro 2-1 in the first-round, and after getting over the quarterfinal hump via a 1-0 win over Holliston on penalty kicks last Monday, DS resumed its playoff run on Wednesday night in Brockton against No. 1 seed, Seekonk, in the South semifinals.
The game began with both teams playing extremely conservatively and trying to figure out one another. Senior Michael Mastrobuono broke in on a breakaway with Corey Lampman with 19 minutes to play in the first half, and after receiving the feed from his senior captain, Mastrobuono fired a shot that went just over the crossbar, keeping the game tied at nil.
With seven minutes to play, senior defender Mike Cellucci dished an absolute seed up the middle to Lampman, who broke in and fired a right-footed missile from about 15 yards away past the Seekonk keeper and inside the far right post, giving DS a 1-0 lead. After celebrating Lampman’s huge tally, the Raiders played lockdown defense the rest of the half and entered halftime with their 1-0 lead still intact.
Following halftime, DS continued to thrive on the conservative end, clearing out balls to prevent any chance of a Seekonk scoring opportunity and locking down the middle of the field with extra bodies to prevent an easy header for their opposition. With eight minutes to play, Seekonk called timeout to set up a play for an upcoming free kick, but the Raiders played it perfectly, supplying enough pressure in the center of the box to thwart the ball from getting through before Cellucci gave it the boot down field.
Time began to wind down and the Raiders began to feel it on the sidelines as their defensive dominance continued. The clock finally struck zeros after DS brought the ball deep into the Seekonk end and did some dirty work to kill out the clock, as the Raiders took down the No. 1 overall seed with a 1-0 victory to advance to Saturday’s Sectional final.
On Saturday, the Raiders’ incredible playoff run came to an end with a tough 1-0 loss to No. 2 Norwell.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.