By Gianna Addario
---- — WOBURN — Poise and persistence have carried the Masconomet boys soccer team all season — and continued to be prevalent in the state tournament.
Having proved themselves during the regular season by knocking off all of their Cape Ann League opponents, the true test for the Chieftains has been how they stack up against their playoff competition. Through three postseason contests, the results have been nothing short of excellent.
With two unanswered second half goals, Masconomet topped Dorchester (Tech Boston Academy), 3-1, in yesterday’s Division 2 North semifinal. The victory earns the Chieftains a spot in Monday’s North final at Manning Field in Lynn (2:30 p.m.) against the winner of today’s North Andover/Concord Carlisle contest.
“This is what we’ve been playing for all season long,” Masconomet senior captain Adam Grammer said of his team’s trip to the North final. “It’s all we’ve wanted. I’m really proud of the boys, that we’ve made it this far and that this is next step coming up.”
Masconomet (21-1-1), which entered the playoff bracket as the No. 3 seed, had a tall order to handle against second-seeded Dorchester. The Bears came in unbeaten and had scored a combined 11 goals in its previous two tournament contests.
On the opposite end, the Chieftains’ resilient defense had given up just a single goal (via penalty kick) in their last two games.
“We had some trouble creating scoring chances, Masconomet did a great job defensively to limit us,” said Bears head coach Tim Lavin. “In other games we were able to create more opportunities inside the box and capitalizing, but they did a good job at limiting those chances.”
The Chieftains, who have yet to play from behind in this postseason, scored 13 minutes in to go up 1-0. After back-to-back corner kicks by senior midfielder Jack Heintzelman, a bad deflection off a Dorchester defender gave Masco the own goal.
Just about 10 minutes later after a miscue by Masco defenders, Dorchester’s Saadiq Abubakar set up teammate Roberson Cevat to tie the game before halftime.
“They brought it after we got that first goal,” noted Grammer of the Bears. “They pretty much dominated possession for the next 10-15 minutes. But we’re a resilient bunch and don’t get flustered by much. We just had to regain possession — and regain our confidence.”
A big advantage that Masconomet has had is the ability to control play at the start of the second half. The Chieftains almost always score in the opening minutes of the final stanza, having done so the previous two games, and were rewarded once again three minutes into the second period.
Senior striker P.J. Criscione hammered in a huge rebound that Dorchester keeper Heroldens Limage let up to give the Chieftains a 2-1 advantage. Criscione’s goal proved to be the game-winner, his second of the postseason and third overall of the tournament.
“That comes from hard work; that’s not a random chance,” Masconomet head coach Dave Mitchell said of Criscione’s marker. “He does such a great job running on the far post and timing the run so he’s not caught offside. He’s been doing it all season long.”
Edison Forbes solidified the win his second goal of the tournament as Masconomet played with a 3-1 lead for the final five minutes of the game.
Keeper Willie Stewart turned away four shots in the win for the Chieftains, who have given up just nine goals in 23 games this season.
This is Masco’s second trip to the North finals in three seasons under Mitchell, who took over for legendary coach Lenny Emmons (576-101-70 all-time record) in 2011.