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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Wellesley and Needham High boys varsity soccer teams renewed their historical rivalry with one another on Monday night under the lights at Memorial Field in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 MIAA One South State Tournament.
The sixth-seeded Rockets (11-3-7) got to the quarterfinals via a 4-1 victory over New Bedford at home on Saturday, while the 14-seed Raiders (7-7-4) upset third seed Silver Lake Regional (Kingston) on the road, 3-2 in overtime.
Defense was the name of the game in this tilt, as both the Raiders and Rockets were held off of the scoreboard throughout the 80-minute regulation, before Kyle Brady’s golden goal in overtime sent the Rockets onto the South semifinals.
Perhaps the best scoring chance of the entire regulation period came on a breakaway by Wellesley’s Colby Stakun-Pickering near the end of the first half.
After winning a race to a loose ball, Stakun-Pickering outran the Needham defender and came in undefended towards the Rocket net. Goalkeeper Andrew McNally came off his line to cut down the angle, forcing Stakun-Pickering to release a quick shot towards the left post. McNally got a finger on the ball and it trickled just past the outside of the post and wide of the net, holding the game at 0-0 at the half.
A second half of missed opportunities for both teams forced the game into a 10-minute sudden death overtime period.
Six minutes into overtime, the Rockets crossed a ball into the box that fell between two Wellesley defenders. Kyle Brady sprinted in and struck the ball past the reach the reach of a diving Anders Pineau at point blank range and into the back of the net to win the contest for Needham and send Memorial Field into a frenzy.
“That was an incredible game tonight,” said Needham head coach Jimmy Odierna. “Credit to Wellesley, they really brought it.”
Odierna praised the efforts of his goalkeeper, Andrew McNally, following the victory.
“We simply couldn’t score, and Andrew really stepped up and made some big saves to bail us out and help get the game to overtime. That save he made on the breakaway ended up being the difference in the game.”
Odierna also said that Kyle Brady’s goal was a result of hard work and patience.
“Kyle had gone a little cold the last few games but we all knew that if he just stayed patient and stuck to his game that it would pay off, and it did tonight. It’s awesome to see it all pay off for a kid who works as hard as he does.”
On the Wellesley side, head coach Tim Mason said that while the result may not have turned out in favor of the Raiders, he is proud of the way his team competed and fought to the bitter end.
“Just an unbelievable game, the guys went out there and gave it everything they had and competed their tails off tonight,” said Mason. “We dealt with a lot this week, playing in overtime on the road less than 48 hours ago, but we found a way to play one of our best games of the season tonight despite the outcome not going in our favor.”
“There’s two types of ways to deal with a loss like this, and I’d say our guys took the high road. A game like this can do a lot to boost a program, and I’m hoping we can build off the effort we showed tonight into next season.”
Mason credited his sophomore goalkeeper, Anders Pineau, following the loss.
“There’s nothing Anders could do on that goal, a keeper has very little chance on a point blank shot like that. He’s young and offers a very bright future for us. He works hard and improves every week, you can’t ask for much more from your keeper.”