, Salem, MA


November 13, 2013

Masco boys soccer must be wary of dangerous Walpole in state final

A word to the wise for the Masconomet boys soccer team: Don’t underestimate your title game opponent.

Disregard the numbers that say Walpole High, whom the Chieftains will meet at Manning Field in Lynn tomorrow (7:15 p.m.) for the Division 2 state championship, could be easy fodder for the Tri-Town team. Numbers such as the Rebels being the 13th seed in a 15-team South sectional, or the fact that they’ve lost seven games this fall and tied five others.

Focus, instead, on the fact that Walpole has won eight straight contests, haven’t given up a goal the entire postseason (340 minutes, including overtimes) and is looking to deliver the school and their legendary coach, Lee Delaney, their first-ever state soccer championship.

Delaney has been the Rebels’ head coach for 34 years, and this is the first time one of his squads ever reached the sectional final (and subsequently, the state final). Playing out of the rugged Bay State League, they were a Division 1 tournament team for many years until state realignment put them back in Division 2 for 2013.

The Rebels were mired in a season-long funk and, with four games remaining in the regular season, stood at 5-7-2 and out of the playoff picture. But they rallied to win their last four contests, clinching a tournament spot with a comeback win over Bishop Feehan (3-2) in their second-to-last game, and have continued to roll in the postseason.

It started with a 1-0 win at fourth-seeded Greater New Bedford in their playoff opener and carried over into a gutsy quarterfinal victory over No. 5 Nauset, 1-0, on penalty kicks (which Walpole won, 3-1). It continued into the South sectional semifinals with a 2-0 triumph over ninth-seeded Pembroke, and was capped off Monday with another 2-0 victory, this time over unbeaten No. 2 seed Oliver Ames, in the sectional final.

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