The MV United men’s Under-18 soccer team qualified for the prestigious Massachusetts Tournament of Champions, to be held June 28-30 in Lancaster, with a 2-0 win over Mashpee Sunday afternoon in a South Coast Soccer League semifinal at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven.
Regardless of the outcome in Sunday’s league final against Fall River at Veterans Park (12:30 pm), the Vineyard side will play in the MTOC. If United win the final, they will play in the Under-18 Division. A loss in the final will place M.V. in the Under-19 Division.
The win over Mashpee was particularly sweet for coach Esteban Aranzabe’s team, who suffered its lone defeat of the season in a 2-0 home loss to the Blue Falcons on May 19.
Aside from the first five minutes, United was in control throughout Sunday’s semifinal match. The margin of victory surely would have been far greater if not for the spectacular goaltending of Mashpee’s Colin Jepson, who kept at least a half-dozen Vineyard goals off the scoresheet. The save of the match occurred mid-way through the second half when Jepson dashed some 20 feet, sliding to block Colin Cameron standing unmarked at right post, before the Vineyarder could stuff the ball into the open net.
Ironically, MVU dented Jepson’s armour on the very first attempt, 10 minutes into the first half, as Colin Cameron cooly slotted the ball between the keeper’s wickets for a 1-0 lead.
From there, United and the partisan crowd of nearly 100 fans had to wait until the 85th minute for the crucial insurance goal to come. Martin Aranzabe put the game beyond doubt with a shot into an open net after Colin Jepson rushed to the edge of the penalty area to block the initial attempt. Colin Cameron, unsure if the ball had crossed the line, roofed the ball into the top of the net to make sure.
U-11 boys, U-13 girls win; U-15 girls fall in OT
Three other MV United teams were in action over the weekend. The Veterans Park faithful were treated to another outstanding match earlier on Sunday as the U-11 Division 2 Black team edged Westport, 3-2, in an SCSL quarterfinal playoff match. Ramon Dos Santos scored the opening goal and Nicholas DePaula tallied twice. Both Vineyard U-11 teams, Purple (Division 1) and Black will play in the league semifinals on June 22 in Sandwich.
Tied for 6th place, the U-13 girls played Dartmouth in a one-match playoff to secure a spot in the SCSL tournament. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in regulation, with Evelyn Medeiros scoring for the Vineyard.
In extra time, Dartmouth scored to take a 2-1 lead, but Olivia Pouliot equalized on a direct free kick, setting up a penalty kick shootout. The teams remained tied through five rounds of PK’s until Vineyard goalie Brianna De Oliveira made a save and subsequently scored the match winner.
The girls then won the league quarterfinal by knocking out third-seed Oceana of North Eastham in another PK shootout, following a 2-2 draw. Evelyn Medeiros and Adeline Hayman scored the Vineyard goals. After Oceana took a 3-2 lead in extra time, Olivia Pouliot scored on a free kick to send the match to PK’s. From there, Marrissa D’ Antonio and Pouliot scored to send United to the SCSL semifinals this weekend.
The fourth-seeded U-15 girls played at top-seed Dighton-Rehoboth in the SCSL semifinals and lost a heartbreaker, 3-1, in extra time. Molly Houghton scored for M.V. in regulation to force a 1-1 draw, but the hosts scored twice late in the second 15-minute extra period to win the match. United got stellar play from keeper Cana Courtney and defenders Kaela Vecchia Zeitz, Madison McBride, and Casey McAndrews.