BOXFORD — The Masconomet boys soccer team held the edge in every aspect of Wednesday's Division 2 North playoff opener against Central Catholic — except the one that counted most: the scoreboard.
The visiting Raiders netted the lone goal of the contest en route to a 1-0 upset victory with the game winner coming in the 62nd minute of play when senior John McCarthy drilled a low shot into the left corner of the net that Masco goalie Zach Rock had no chance to stop.
The Raider captain is the team's leading scorer with 10 goals and five assists. He was set up by freshman Eric Fischer, who had the ball along the right sideline and found McCarthy streaking down the middle.
"I got the pass and wanted to make sure I took a good shot on our first chance of the game," said McCarthy, who was outstanding at center midfield. "We all thought being seeded 12th was not accurate because we play in a really tough conference (Merrimack Valley). We knew we could come in here and beat Masconomet."
It was a disappointing loss for the No. 5 seed Chieftains, who finished the season with a 12-5-3 record. The first half was pretty even, but the home team had the edge in both winning the 50-50 balls and time of possession. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before they popped one in.
"We knew this game could go either way, and figured it would be 1-0," said Masco head coach Jared Scarpaci. "They had one chance and unfortunately for us put it in the back of the net. This was a good game, back and forth, but I think we had more opportunities as well as time of possession."
One of the main reasons Masco came out on the short end was the outstanding play of Central's senior goalie James Sorenson, who made some big saves, especially after his team took the lead. Sorenson was very aggressive and able to grab the ball in a crowd in front of his net.
His first big stop came on a direct kick with 17 minutes remaining in the game, and another gem was on a corner kick with eight minutes left. He denied Masco on a free kick by Sam Brockelman when he leaped up in a crowd to come up with the ball.
"I was able to spot the ball in the air and jumped up to grab it before anybody could get it," said Sorenson. "It got a bit crowded out front a few times. This is such a big win for us."
Masconomet had four corner opportunities and came close to converting, but either the defense denied them or Sorenson was there. After taking the lead the Raiders were content to send the ball long and make Masco chase while taking time off the clock.
"Their goalie made some nice saves," said Scarpaci. "Our guys played hard all the way. Brockelman (a sophomore) was fantastic. Our three backs Dom Gecoya, Alex Boldi and Will Neuenhaus all played well. It was a good season overall and another CAL championship.
"It's very disappointing now, but when the guys have a moment to reflect I'm sure they'll be proud of the accomplishments. They represented the school and the conference well."
The Raiders were without one of their better players, senior midfielder Alex Furry, and lost forward Jackson Wetherbee before halftime because of a bad cut.
"He had to go to the hospital to have stitches so we were missing two starters after that," said coach Mike Bolduc. "Even though we were seeded a lot lower than Masconomet I don't consider this a big upset. We are in a very competitive conference with a lot of parity. We started off in a 4-1-4-1 formation with only one guy up top so we weren't getting scoring chances, but we wanted to figure out what they were doing.
"We changed to a 4-4-2, and scored. After that we had to play defensively to protect the lead. Sorenson is very athletic, and he really had a great game."