By Jean DePlacido
---- — LYNN — Failure to cash in on early opportunities came back to haunt St. John’s Prep in a 4-1 loss to top-seeded Somerville in the Division 1 North finals Saturday afternoon at Manning Field.
“We certainly had our chances, but didn’t finish,” said St. John’s coach Dave Crowell after the game. “We missed a post, crossbar and two sitters; that was the difference.
“Somerville took advantage of their chances; we didn’t. You get those opportunities, and if you don’t put them away you can’t count on getting them again later.”
The Eagles and Highlanders both came into the final having not allowed a single postseason goal in their three previous tournament wins. That streak came to an end for St. John’s in the fourth minute of play when the Highlanders’ Julian Murphy scored on a header off of teammate Firmino Junior’s well-placed corner kick.
The Eagles (16-3-2) had a few golden opportunities early, including a shot off the crossbar by Michael Lanza. They eventually capitalized in the 15th minute of play when Lanza made a nice cross from the left side to Matt Chilton, who headed the ball in for a 1-1 tie.
But Thayrone Miranda proved to be the difference maker for the Highlanders. He scored on a highlight reel header that caught the lower far corner of the net and proved to be the game-winner in the 24th minute. Prep goalie Zach Rowell had no chance to stop it.
Chilton blasted a shot off the left post in the final two minutes of the half. The ball slammed off the post and across the crease before a Highlander defender booted it away.
“They had some good chances early on, and fortunately for us didn’t put them away,” said Somerville (20-1-1) coach George Scarpelli. “That showed us what we were doing wrong. We had to tighten up the middle to prevent them from getting through, and we were able to do that much better in the second half.”
The Catholic Conference champions came out strong after intermission and carried the play. Lanza and Paul Magazzu made some nice runs, but the Highlander defense prevented the kind of chances they had in the first 40 minutes.
In the last 10 minutes St. John’s was forced to bring everybody up in an attempt to tie the game, and Somerville capitalized with two late scores. Miranda got his second of the game on a perfectly placed kick from 20 yards out, and Julio Salguero Lemus scored the final goal with three minutes left.
“It doesn’t make any difference whether you lose, 2-1 or 4-1,” said Crowell. “We had to come forward to try to get the equalizer.
“Somerville is so explosive; offensively it’s hard to keep them down. That No. 10 (Miranda) exploited us on the back post. Our coverage there was not what we needed.”
Prep captain Anthony Vigliotta has missed most of the season with a fractured hip, but was cleared to play earlier in the week. “It was great to get Anthony back,” said Crowell. “He’s one of the guys that make us go, and even though he was not at full strength I’m glad we were able to have him out there.”