Melrose boys soccer tops Pentucket in D3 North Semifinals

After regulation and two overtimes, the Red Raiders weren’t ready to say goodbye to the 2017 season.

The Melrose High boys soccer team advanced to the MIAA Division 3 North Semifinals with a victory over Pentucket on Nov. 6. The Red Raiders and the Sachems dueled to a scoreless tie through four regulation quarters and two overtimes before Melrose prevailed on penalty kicks, 3-2.

“PKs are one of those things, it can go either way,” says Melrose coach Dean Serino. “It’s tough to lose those. The kids just got together and decided they wanted to stay together a little while longer.”

Goalkeeper Jared Dowell pitched a shutout and emerged victorious during the penalty kick session, and was helped by a tremendous effort from the Red Raider defense.

“I thought he had a good night,” Serino says of his goalie. “He didn’t get tested a ton, but he was confident before PKs. He played with a lot of confidence; I thought the whole defense did, too. I thought they were solid.”

To pull out this victory, this team continued to get important contributions from the seniors on the roster, in addition to Dowell. During the PK session, seniors Owen Thorsteinsson, Sava Vladjkovic and Peter Wiesen all put the ball past the opposing goalkeeper.

“I think experience is important, we have all these seniors,” explains Serino. “I think, also, that they care about each other, they know they have each other’s backs, win or lose. A lot of that goes into it. They’re also fit and they practice a ton; they take it seriously.”

Melrose was slated to face off against Dracut on Wednesday, Nov. 8 (3:30 p.m.) in the Division 3 North Semifinals. Melrose earned the seventh seed in the bracket with an 8-4-6 record during the regular season, and pulled off the upset by toppling no. 2 seed Pentucket in the previous round. Dracut finished the regular season with a 7-8-3 record to earn the 11th seed; Dracut defeated Saugus in the first round and Gloucester in the quarterfinals to reach the semis. The winner of Wednesday’s game will go on to play in the Division 3 North Finals at Manning Field in Lynn on Nov. 12.

To get to this point, the Red Raiders picked up a 4-1 victory over Lynnfield in the first round of the Division 3 North State Tournament on Nov. 3.

“I think we came out and we were a little unsure,” says Serino. “It was 1-1 at the half. In the second half, we dominated most of the play and scored a bunch of goals. I think it was a good test.”

Shea Champagne and David Kurti scored a pair of goals each in the contest, another contest that was decided thanks to input and effort from Melrose’s seniors.

“Both Lynnfield and Pentucket were very gracious, very hard-working teams,” says Serino. “Again, our kids met at halftime to discuss thing, they sorted stuff out and said they want his season to continue. They’ve been together a long time, as far as young kids playing together in Melrose.”