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Tewksbury Girls' Thrilling Bid For League Crown Falls Just Short

Jun 26, 2014 07:38PM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury Youth Soccer.

The following information was submitted by the administration of the Tewksbury Youth Soccer League.

The Tewksbury’s Girls U16 team finished in 3rd place at the end of the regular season.  They tallied just 1 loss, 1 tie, and only allowed 3 goals.  The top 4 teams qualify for the playoffs and the Redmen would face off against the Billerica Indians on Father’s day which would turn out to be an epic match. 

In their regular season match the 2 teams tied 1-1.  On Father’s Day they met in Wilmington.  Tewksbury struck first with an early goal by forward Emily Velozo.  Billerica answered before the end of the first half with 2 goals to take the lead.  The Redmen defense miss handled the ball and keeper, Sam Mercurio had a little trouble with the Billerica shot as she slipped and then bobbled the ball.  Billerica pounced on the loose ball and tapped it in past Mercurio.  A similar miss cue would happen again before the end of the first half and Billerica would take a 2-1 lead.  

The Redmen would re-group and tie the score in the second half off a great goal from center-midfielder Emily Sessa.  The defensive tandem made up of Kelly Fortier, Taylor Donahoe, Sam Surowiec, Maddy Wescott, and Caroline Piccarello would stymie the Indians for the rest of the second half.  

The game would remain tied through regulation and both teams knew that only the winner would move onto the MA Tournament of Champions (MTOC) so 2 overtime periods would ensue.  

Midfielder Sara Catanzano would sail a beautiful corner kick in front of the Billerica keeper who had been stellar all game long.  Victoria Mirabito had positioned herself perfectly on the far post and jumped up, took the keeper by surprise, and knocked the ball in off her chest.  Billerica would tie it up on a penalty kick that sailed over Mercurio’s head.  There was nothing she could do on this well struck ball and the game was tied again.

The Redmen would suffer 2 devastating injuries. First, Kelly Fortier, sweeper and rock of the defense would go down with a knee injury and then center forward Kayla Devlin would go down with an ankle injury.  Both girls are key players to the Redmen success but the team remained Tewksbury Tough and re-grouped.  Catanzano moved to sweeper and her nifty foot skills and knack for the ball was just what the Redmen needed to back up the defense.  The offense worked hard to break the 3-3 tie but the first OT period ended.

Maddy Wescott, Karalyn Gallela, and Velozo worked hard to move the ball up the field as Sessa, Emily Stewart, Leah Pantaleo and Brittany Fletcher picked up the pressure on the Indians defense.  Fletcher would be the hero as she stole an errant goal kick by the Indian’s left back and took the ball all the way to the net.  The keeper was grabbing any shot that was high so Fletcher bent a low dribbler past the diving keeper to give the Redmen the go ahead goal. 

The Redmen then took a defensive stance to try and maintain the lead and when the whistle finally blew Tewksbury would outlast Billerica in this mammoth 2.5 hour game.  Billerica’s season ended while Tewksbury would move on to play Woburn for the Middlesex Youth Soccer League Championship.  Both teams had already qualified for MTOC but a league champion needed to be crowned.

Tewksbury v Woburn

The following Sunday Woburn and Tewksbury met up once again.  In their first game of the season Woburn beat Tewksbury 1-0.  Tewksbury had been without their keeper, Mercurio and Catanzano for that game but this past Sunday they would play without their sweeper, Kelly Fortier, who suffered a season ending knee injury in the Billerica game.  Catanzano would fill in that position once again and she frustrated the Woburn forwards the entire game with her proficient foot skills and innate ability to track the ball. 

Mercurio played her best game to date and made some tremendous saves when the game was on the line.  The Redmen would have to go the distance with just 2 substitutions and this would make it difficult in the heat but the Redmen played hard and the half ended with no score.  

Each team had their chances but the keepers were both on top of their game.  Woburn took advantage of the tired Tewksbury legs and stepped up the offensive pressure.  In the 86th minute there was a scrum in front of Mercurio and the ball squirted free and a Woburn forward won the race to the ball and tapped it in.  So with less than 4 minutes to go in the match Tewksbury desperately needed a goal to tie the game.  They gave it their all but were unable to get one past the Tanner’s keeper.  Woburn would win 1-0 but the Redmen held their heads high as they played a good match and they had already qualified for MTOC.  This will be the first appearance at MTOC for all the players on the team.  The tournament begins on Friday morning.

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