Girls Soccer Advances, Boys Eliminated from Tourney



Over this past weekend, one dramatic finish propelled the Manchester Essex girls soccer team forward in the MIAA Div. 4 Tournament, another meant the end of the season for the boys soccer team.

The Manchester Essex girls soccer team beat Tyngsborough by a 2-1 score on Saturday, Nov. 5, to advance to the MIAA Div. 4 Round of 16.  There, the Hornets were slated to take on Uxbridge at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Hyland Field.  Uxbridge finished the regular season with a record of 7-5-6 but were seeded 10th overall in the Div. 4 tournament (Manchester Essex was seeded seventh with a regular season record of 7-7-4).

The girls beat Tyngsboro on Mechi O’Neil’s deciding score in overtime; it was O’Neil’s second goal of the game.

“We had most of the possession and created many chances in both halves,” explained ME girls soccer coach Christo Manginis.  “We should have finished the game off in the first 20 minutes or so, but when you don't take your chances it comes back to bite you, and Tyngsboro scored on -- I believe -- their first shot right at the end of the first half.  We had the better chances in the second half as well, but it took a late screamer from Mechi O'Neil to win it for us in extra time.”

Manginis labelled O’Neil the player of the game thanks to her game-winner, calling it, “one of the best goals I have ever seen in sudden death extra time.”  Also of note was the play of Libby Lawler and Charlotte Crocker, with each assisting on Mechi goals and putting in some tough tackles in the midfield to keep things close.

“We are a better team than Tyngsboro, and despite not playing as well as we are capable of, this is a tough group of girls,” says Manginis.  “They believe in themselves, don’t give up, and showed their quality in the end.”

The girls will have to continue to show such resiliency against Uxbridge, the first time the squad has seen them this season.

“I think we will match up well against Uxbridge,” says Manginis.  “They are an organized team, and we will have to disrupt that organization, something we have done to teams throughout this season.”

At the other end of the spectrum, the ME boys soccer team won their first round matchup, 4-3, against Monomoy on Friday, Nov. 4, before moving on to fall to Frontier Regional by a 3-0 score in the Div. 4 Sweet 16 on Sunday, Nov. 6.

The Monomoy game was hotly contested, with Becket Spencer and Sammy Bothwell scoring early to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.  Monomoy battled back to tie things up later in the game, but goals from Ernest Taylor (assisted by Finn Lawler) and Spencer gave ME a lead it would not relinquish, even after allowing one late goal after that.

“This was a hard-fought game,” says ME boys soccer coach Rob Bilsbury.  “We were up early, but it was really an even game.  They scored late, and we were able to hold them off at the end.”

The Hornets struggled against Frontier the following Sunday, however, and the 3-0 loss eliminated the boys team from the Div. 4 tourney.

“We played them tough early, but they are really skilled,” explains Bilsbury.  “They have an amazing center-middie and striker.”

The Hornet boys will lose 12 seniors from this season’s squad to graduation, including Lawler, Spencer, Zachary Brown, Air Brzezinski, Brady Friedrich, Andrew Gagnon, Brady Gagnon, Charles Mann, Connor Morgan, Jack Newton, Finnegan Straub and Giuseppe Tra.  The team will miss team captains Lawler, Spencer and the Gagnon twins, but should be in good hands with the return of key players like Bothwell, Brodie Tolo and Charlie Langendorf.  Also returning will be Ali Erdogan, who put together a strong season as a sophomore, and Logan Desouza, a versatile, communicative player.

“It was a great season,” says Bilsbury.  “It was awesome to coach these boys; I’m really proud of our senior leadership.”

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