The Marblehead High boys soccer team (2-2-2) displayed a renewed intensity after grabbing two close wins over rivals Peabody (2-2-1) and Saugus (0-2-2) during just the third week of the season. In both games, the Magicians jumped out to early leads, before displaying stout defensive tactics to keep their opponents at bay.
On Sept. 18, the Tanners came to Piper Field for what has become an annual showdown.
Peabody had given the Magicians headaches, but on this day the home team gained the upper hand. Marblehead seized an opportunity early on in the first half, when midfield captain Jack Burke pushed the ball through to striker Kyle Hart, who made a sweet wide angle run, before bouncing it under the goalie’s outstretched hands.
Marblehead led, 1-0 with 33:48 left in the first half, and minutes later both players combined for
another score. However, just before halftime, Peabody was given a red card as a result of a foul in the Marblehead penalty box. With only 10 players on the field, the Tanners still took their game up a level. Historically, the Peabody squad plays a possession-based attack, reliant upon short, high precision passes to keep defensive players chasing, and this game was no different. The Marblehead boys began to tire, and midway through the second half they gave up a penalty kick, when one of the Tanners was dropped in the box. The visitors ended up scoring to trim the deficit in half with 26:34 left in the game, 2-1.
But the Magicians were then able to regroup, led by Rory Zampese’s brilliant goaltending and the physical play by captain Riley Schmitt, Colin White, Adam Loughlin and Leo Burdge.
“The backs have been formidable, even in the face of injuries to two starters early on in the season, which illustrates our depth,” said coach Elmer Magana.
Peabody continued to threaten, but couldn’t convert, which secured a much needed first win for the Magicians.
Two days later, the Magicians traveled to Saugus, playing the Sachems on what felt like a summer day at the new Serino Sports Complex.
Saugus proved to be resilient, conceding an early goal. They never gave the visitors a chance to put the game away.
Jared Halpern scored the first Marblehead goal after taking a beautiful heel pass from Burke, who has quickly become the team’s leader in assists, while also being an absolute threat from anywhere on the pitch.
Late in the first half, Schmitt controlled a punt with a solid chest trap, leading to a series of passes that enabled Miles Fontela-Tuttle to score.
The Sachems narrowed the gap with a goal off a corner kick, but Marblehead countered, with Fontela-Tuttle again knocking the ball home. In the waning minutes, Saugus scored on a direct kick that flew over the wall of defenders. It was once again a one-goal game. But then, Marblehead took time off the clock with deep runs to nail down the 3-2 triumph.
Magaña has been pleased with the team’s efforts to date. “The main factor in turning it around has been the inner competitive switch each player possesses,” he said. “They are now coming out ready to play with the belief that they can compete with anybody, no matter if they are in Division 1 or not.
“Since the beginning of the season, we have been practicing passing drills, triangle passing, switching the field and lifting the ball, but if your inner competitive switch is not on, you will not perform to the best of your ability,” Magana added.
After facing non-league Andover on Sept. 23, the Marblehead boys will then go up against two formidable opponents on the road. They will be in Boxford Sept. 27 to take on the Chieftains, before playing the Patriots at Concord-Carlisle the next day.