Top seeded Martha’s Vineyard boys win 2-1 thriller in soccer tourney opener

The jubilant Vineyarders rush toward the home crowd after the Division 3 South Sectional quarterfinal win over Scituate. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The top-seeded Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys soccer team survived a tough opening test Monday afternoon at Dan McCarthy Field in the MIAA state Division 3 tournament with a thrilling 2-1 South Sectional quarterfinal win over eighth-seeded Scituate.

Jason Lages scored the match winner with less than two minutes left in regulation to send the large, vocal crowd into a frenzy and sink the Sailors’ tourney hopes for the second consecutive year. The Vineyarders (16-0-2) advanced to the sectional semi-final to be played Wednesday at 4:30 pm at Canton High School against fifth seeded Medway (13-2-3).

The Sailors had stunned the Vineyarders 18 minutes into second half by tying the match on a perfect header, following a free kick service from inside the right sideline. For the first time all afternoon, the visitors began to carry the play. The Vineyarders needed to find some extra resolve and their leading scorer provided the winning strike.

Lages took a through ball from Kane Araujo, collected the ball on a high bounce, beat two Scituate defenders and slotted the ball low to the right side of the mesh from 10 yards out.

After the final whistle, the jubilant Vineyarders rushed toward the home crowd and celebrated with abandon.

“You deserved to win that way in front of the home crowd,” Vineyard coach Damon Burke said to his team after the win, adding “great job, I’m super proud.”

“It was definitely one of those games that probably took about a week off the end of my life,” he said. “I was really happy that we went ahead. I was really happy with our possession and our attacking flow in the beginning of the first half.”

Coach Burke was also impressed by how his side responded after the Sailors tied the match. The goal was only the fifth conceded by the Vineyarders this season.

“It [the Scituate goal] gave them the opportunity to really step up in the waning minutes under a lot of pressure and they did that,” he said. “It was a great effort all around. I thought our defense was excellent. Kane Araujo and Noah Kleinhenz have just been awesome all year in midfield.”

The match was a barnburner from the outset. The teams played at a breakneck pace but produced a scoreless first half. Aside from a Scituate rush down the right flank in the first minute of the match, the Vineyarders, many of whom sported Mohawk haircuts, dominated possession and outshot the Sailors 9-3. Four Vineyard shots were on target. Lages had the best chance at goal in the 21st minute, dribbling through three Sailor defenders, pivoting and ripping a 20-yard shot which was parried away by the Scituate keeper.

Elie Jordi, Evandro Medici, Kane Araujo, and Sam Entner also had good attempts in the first half.

The Vineyarders broke the stalemate seven minutes into the second half, courtesy of hustling Sam Entner. Jason Lages had a bid at the right corner of the box but the Scituate goalie slid to block the shot. The ball bounced in front of the open net while several players from both teams poured into the box. Entner was first to arrive, wound up, and stuffed a shot inside the left post while sliding to the ground. From that point, the Vineyarders carried the play until the Sailors stunned the top seeds and the partisan crowd with the game-tying goal.