BILLERICA — Needing a win on Saturday morning against Mystic Valley in order keep their dreams of a Commonwealth Athletic Conference title hopes alive, the Shawsheen Tech Boys soccer team picked up their biggest win of the season.
The Rams put together a dominant second half to down their CAC rivals by a score of 3-0 to improve to 7-1-1 on the season and set up a league deciding matchup with Essex Tech on Tuesday night at 6:30 in Billerica.
The Rams pulled out the win over Mystic by playing perhaps their best second half of the season, blowing the game open with three second half goals after the teams had played to a scoreless deadlock at the half.
While the Rams had carried much of the play in the first half, they had been unable to solve the Mystic goalie, but that was certainly not the case in the second half as the Rams struck early and often to seize control of the game.
Shawsheen senior Anthony Papa got the Rams on the board early in the second half with a low sizzler off a pass from junior Jeremy Perez of Tewksbury. Shawsheen potted the insurance goal when senior Devin Almeida of Wilmington blazed one in with help from seniors Billy Hartshorn and Tyler Archibald of Wilmington. Sophomore Evan Pinto of Wilmington continued his fine play of late to get the third goal on a great shot, off of another assist by Archibald as well as fellow senior Joe Hansen of Wilmington.
“That was a great win for us”, Shawsheen coach Tom Severo said. “It was a great win to get back on track after a loss to Essex in our previous game. We controlled play in the first half, but in the second half we played very, very well and were able to pull out the win. Mystic is a good team. They have two or three very talented and very physical players and we were able to shut them down, so that was big for us.”
Shawsheen senior goalie Tyler Newhouse of Wilmington went the distance in net for the Rams to pick up the shutout victory. For the most part this season, Newhouse has shared goaltending duties with fellow senior Adam Kearns, and it has obviously worked out well given the Rams outstanding record, but Severo went with the more experienced Newhouse from start to finish in this one.
“He was playing well, so we decided to just stick with him, and he stepped up when we needed him to,” Severo said. “He made a huge save for us in the second half to keep them off the scoreboard.”
The big win over Mystic set up an even bigger matchup on Tuesday night with Essex at Shawsheen. It was the season finale for both teams, with all post season play being canceled this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of the game were not available as of press time for the Town Crier, but Severo was confident in his team’s chances. While he certainly wasn’t ready to make a prediction on the result of the game, he was confident that his team would provide a stiff test for Essex, who defeated the Rams 3-1 two weeks ago in Danvers to give the Rams their only loss of the season.
“I thought the last time we played them, the 3-1 final score did not indicate how close the game was,” Severo said. “it was great to get this win (over Mystic) because it gives us a great opportunity to win a league title. We have had a great season and the kids have worked very hard to put themselves in this position. There is no tournament and no post season, but this is a great opportunity for us. We have one game left and if we win we are league champs.”
Prior to their big win over Mystic, the Rams had gone 1-1 the week before, including the aforementioned 3-1 loss to Essex Tech on a bitter cold night last Monday in Danvers. The Hawks got on the board first in this one, but Shawsheen tied it at 1-1 on a goal by Papa, with the assists going to Pinto and Archibald, with Archibald’s perfect cross setting it up. The score was tied 1-1 at half time, but Essex managed to score off a deflection midway through the second half and added another as the Rams were pressing forward in an attempt to tie.
It was a tough loss to swallow for Severo and the Rams, but Severo thought his team competed very well throughout the contest.
“Yes, we lost but were in the game all the way,” Severo said. “We missed three great chances by shooting over the bar and we also hit the post on a penalty kick.”
In addition to their scorers, also playing well for Shawsheen were seniors Matt Hemenway and Devin Almeida of Wilmington, along with Perez and sophomore Noah Rizzo, both of Tewksbury.
In the Rams previous game, on October 28, they had beaten Innovation Academy 6-1. Innovation took a 1-0 lead 30 seconds into the game and the Hawks played a tight first half which ended in a 1-1 tie, but the Rams dominated the second half.
Rizzo and Archibald led the way back for the visitors with two goals and two assists each.
“Tyler was his usual self, great speed and skills and Noah had a break out game,” Severo said. “Noah was electric, and really showed how much he can influence a game. He is only a sophomore, but,he has pushed his way into the starting lineup, making us even stronger.”
Meanwhile, Almeida chipped in with a goal and an assist, while Papa had a goal. Other assists went to Perez, and senior Billy Hartshorn. Senior goalies Adam Kearns and Tyler Newhouse of Wilmington split the game in net for the Rams.