LEXINGTON – The improvement from the start of the season until now has continued for the Wilmington High School boys' soccer team.
This past week, the Wildcats ended in a 1-1 tie with Melrose, before being challenged with two games against Middlesex League Liberty Division teams, Arlington and Lexington. The 'Cats were defeated by the defending Division 2 state finalists, Arlington, 4-0, and then fell 4-1 to Lexington, the No. 1 ranked Division 1 team in all of Eastern Mass.
"We are playing better, but the competition level is very strong," said head coach Steve Scanlon. "I have been very proud of the effort, despite our record. This team battles and that's all a coach can ask for."
The 0-2-1 week puts Wilmington at 1-9-1, while the ninth loss eliminated the team from qualifying for the state tournament.
In the tie with Melrose, poor weather conditions, including a driving rain, played a factor. Wilmington trailed 1-0 after the halftime break and then early in the second half, Aiden McGrath converted on a penalty kick. Scanlon said that the defenders had a strong game, as did keeper Justin Healey, who turned away ten shots.
Two days later on Friday, Wilmington was defeated by Arlington.
"The score was not indicative of the game," said Scanlon. "It was a well played match against a very good team."
Healey made 11 saves and back-up keeper Liam Dwyer made two.
On Monday night, Wilmington played arguably its best game of the season — or perhaps the best 65 minutes of the season.
"We were up against the number one team in Eastern Mass and it was a 2-1 game with 15 minutes remaining," said Scanlon.
Lexington drew first blood early in the game before Chris Bernazani notched his first varsity goal, on an assist from McGrath, coming in the 15th minute to tie the game up at 1-1. Lexington went up 2-1, before adding two more in the final 15 minutes of the game.
"We battled them all night," said Scanlon. "(Taylor) Padulsky, (Jason) Berube and (Patrick) O'Mahony were all strong on defense. McGrath was solid in the midfield and Healey was exceptional in the net again, making 13 saves. Liam played the last few minutes and made two saves."
Wilmington faced Woburn — the last Liberty Division game of the season — on Wednesday with results not known as of presstime. The 'Cats will remain at home for three games next week a gainst Burlington on Monday morning (10:00 am), Wakefield on Wednesday night at 6 and then Stoneham on Saturday the 19th at 5 pm. All three games will be held at the high school.
Wilmington defeated Burlington earlier this season, but were defeated by both Wakefield and Stoneham.