By Gianna Addario
---- — TOPSFIELD — The Masconomet boys soccer team didn’t expect yesterday’s Division 2 North first round contest against Winchester to go into double overtime.
In fact, after the third-seeded Chieftains scored five minutes into the second half, it seemed as though the game was pretty much wrapped up.
But even after the Sachems scored on a penalty kick late in regulation to force overtime, Masconomet didn’t lose its composure. With the many scoring opportunities they had, none were more valuable than P.J. Criscione’s game-winning header in double overtime to lift the Chieftains to a 2-1 triumph.
“These guys never give up,” said Masconomet senior captain and Cape Ann Leage Player of the Year Adam Grammer. “We fought to the very end. We had two or three balls right on the goal line, but we’re just a resilient group and we’ve been that way all year.”
The Chieftains have another home game on their hands tomorrow in the quarterfinals against Danvers (2 p.m.).
At 19-1-1 overall, Masconomet is riding a 14-game win streak and is one of the clear favorites in Division 2 North. Yesterday’s game marked only the eighth goal they’ve surrendered all season, and this team is reminiscent of the 2011 squad that reached the Division 1 state final.
Though most of their games weren’t as close as yesterday’s, Masco head coach Dave Mitchell prepares his team for many different situations so they’re ready for whatever the tournament might have in store.
“We try to play situations all the time in practice where we say ‘We’ve got 10 minutes left in game and we’re down a goal,’” explained head coach Dave Mitchell. “We try to force those types of scenarios, and the kids usually deliver in practice ... and I’m proud that they delivered in the game.”
Masconomet scored its first goal five minutes into the second period after Edison Forbes headed in the ball off a corner kick. The Chieftains took a game-high 13 corners and were able this one in the back of the net to go up, 1-0.
The 14th seeded Sachems (7-7-4) caught a break with five minutes to play in regulation when they were awarded a penalty kick for a foul inside the box. It was unclear at the time what had happened since Masconomet keeper Willie Stewart also got knocked down on the play.
“The official word was that there was a foul before the Winchester player ran into our keeper,” Mitchell said. “So in a sense there were two fouls on the play, but we had the initial foul which caused the PK.”
Winchester senior captain Russell Kunes knocked the PK in bottom right out of Stewart’s reach to tie the game 1-1.
“He had great composure and Russell’s just a fantastic player,” said Winchester had coach Vin Musto. “I had full faith that he would put it in.
“It was one of those games that really could’ve went either way. Unfortunately, they got the bounces that we didn’t get and they came out on top. I wish them nothing but the best of luck.”
Masco outshot Winchester 15-7 and dominated in all other facets of the game. Kevin Gilbert and Justin D’Orlando played tremendous on defense, while Grammer and Jack Heintzelman took care of things in the midfield. The Chieftains have a deep roster, which plays to their advantage in the playoffs.