(written, shot and edited for Somerville Patch)
Chelsea senior Carlos Martinez scored with two minutes left in the first overtime of Wednesday’s MIAA North Division 1 Quarter Finals, giving the Red Devils a 3-2 overtime victory over the Somerville Highlanders. Chelsea advanced to Friday’s divisional semi-finals against Billerica. Greater Boston League-champion Somerville’s amazing season has finally ended.
Somerville’s strong midfielders – in particular Francisco Fernandes Neto, the unflappable sophomore center-mid – kept the ball on Chelsea’s side throughout the game. Because of this, Somerville had far more opportunities to score, but they just couldn’t put the ball away enough.
“We just made them focus on moving the ball to the outside,” Highlander coach George Scarpelli said. “Move the ball to the outside, good things happen. Unfortunately, you don’t capitalize on your chances, and that’s what happens.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, seemed content to pick their moments, then explode out of the midfield before Somerville’s defense could react. This forced several Somerville defensive miscues early in the game.
One such miscue forced goalie Richard Rodrigues out of the goal to try to angle off Chelsea’s Hugo Erazo’s after Erazo got past the defense. Erazo missed his shot, but collected his own rebound and nailed the second just five minutes into the game.
The Highlanders did not panic, however, maintaining the attack-first strategy until sophomore Thayrone Miranda – who had missed earlier on a header near Red Devil goalie Jimmy Funes – broke through the defensive line, faking out his mark before depositing the ball in the net to tie the game 1-1 with 15 minutes left in the half.
Somerville continued to shoot and shoot, but nothing went in. A possible goal off a corner kick was waved off because of an offensive handball, and then Chelsea went up 2-1 right before half when Hector Ramirez knocked in a corner kick from Martinez.
“Carlito [Martinez], he’s played with me for four years,” Red Devil coach Mickey Milutinovic said. “He’s developing really well. A lot of colleges will be happy to see him on their teams.”
The second half began very much like the first: many Highlanders shots, nothing to show for them. Neto almost tied the game within the first 10 minutes, then later Edgardo Perez Vasquez shot one just high.
Since power alone couldn’t get the job done, the Highlanders mixed in some deception. Awarded a free kick from 30 yards out, the Highlanders set up a double-screen using Miranda and Neto.
The two players ran successively towards the ball, each looking poised to shoot but veering off at the last moment. Trailing behind them, junior Matheus Augusto Reis curved the ball over the defenders and past the out-of-position Funes to tie the game 2-2.
The Red Devils played the next five minutes of the game shell-shocked by the Highlanders’ goal, and it almost cost them. Freshman Marcelo Brociner – whose speed and control could not be matched by almost any Chelsea defender – took a shot from about 25 yards away, but he pulled it just wide.
“Marcelo, he was a huge piece for us,” Scarpelli said. “A lot of our attack came from him. He gave us the energy when everyone had seemed just flat.”
The Highlanders had two golden late-game scoring opportunities, but a Red Devil defender just managed to get his leg in front of and clear a header from Neto at an empty goal. Moments later, Miranda had a clear shot at the goal,but banged his shot off the near-goalpost.
“We had two balls right on the line, they clear it out, it’s unlucky,” Scarpelli said. “You learn a lessen now: you have to put the ball away and finish the game. That’s it.”
The game went to sudden-death overtime, where Funes made an acrobatic, leaping save against a header from burly Somerville striker Charlemers “Junior” Pierre-Louis. Minutes later, Martinez broke through the defense, pulled Rodrigues out of the goal and scored to win the game.
“When you play overtime, everybody’s tired, and it’s easy to make a mistake,” Milutinovic said. “We had a good counter-attack, and we scored a goal. That’s how this works: one mistake can cost you a game.”
With the loss, eight Somerville seniors – including goalie Rodrigues and Pierre-Louis – played their final game in red. Scarpelli said that despite a disappointing final outcome, he was not disappointed in his team.
“They talked about this team being a rebuilding team,” Scarpelli said. “I’m so proud of these seniors for the way they stood up.”