The Chelsea High football team parlayed a swarming defensive effort and the necessary offensive punch to earn a 14-6 win at North Shore Tech Saturday afternoon. The victory creates a three way tie for first place in the Small Division of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference among Chelsea, North Shore, and Greater Lowell. The determination of who will be the division champion and thereby earn a berth in the post season playoffs with a shot at the Division 4 Super Bowl, will be decided after the schools play in their respective games on Thanksgiving Day via a point system.
Although there are many permutations that could result from the point system, the Red Devils’ fate is in their own hands because if they defeat Matignon, their Turkey Day rival, they will be the CAC Small champs.
The big story of the big win Saturday was the play of the Chelsea defense, which effectively stymied Tech throughout the game. North Shore’s lone foray into the end zone came via a 75 yard punt return early in the first quarter when the Red Devils had to punt on their first possession of the game. But the Chelsea D stopped Tech on a two point conversion attempt, signaling a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the contest.
However, the 6-0 Tech lead loomed large thanks to the Tech defense, which similarly stifled the Chelsea offense. The Red Devils advanced as far as the No. Shore 30 in the second period, but eventually turned the ball over on downs, leaving matters at 6-0 on the scoreboard as the teams went into the locker room at the half.
It was clear that Chelsea would need a big play to break the impasse and the Red Devils got it shortly after the intermission. The Chelsea defense forced Tech to punt from the No. Shore 25 on the opening possession of the second half. Senior Hector Rivera gathered in the pigskin and scooted all the way back to the Tech 25. Three plays later Hector rumbled into the endzone from 18 yards out, and with the successful kick by Juan Martinez, the Red Devils had vaulted into a 7-6 lead.
The Chelsea defense then took charge, continuing to keep the pressure on the Tech offense. The Red Devils did not allow a first down thereafter, the surest indicator of their dominance over their Tech foes. No. Shore was forced to go for a first down from their own 25 late in the game and was stopped, turning the ball over to Chelsea. Three rushes by Raul Flores and one by quarterback Steven Dwyer moved the ball to the Tech five, from where Rivera punched it into the endzone for the coup de grace. Martinez once again kicked the PAT for the 14-6 finale.
“It was a nice win us. The defense was superb and the offense took advantage of its scoring opportunities” said CHS head coach Mike Stellato, who lauded the individual efforts of junior Kevin Diaz, senior Rony Gomez, sophomore Jose Martinez, Rivera (who also had an interception to go with his two touchdowns), and freshman Anthony Arroyo.
“Now we have to win on Thanksgiving,” added the coach.
The Record will preview the Thanksgiving encounter with Matignon in next week’s paper.
Red Devil soccer team advances to semis in tourney
The Chelsea High boys soccer team put on quite a run in the Division 1 North State Tournament, advancing as far as the semifinals before succumbing to Billerica by a 4-2 margin on Friday at Manning Field in Lynn.
“The team really came together at the end of the season and in the tourney,” said CHS head coach Evan Protasowicki. “We faced the pressure of the tourney and played hard right to the end.”
After the Red Devils, who were seeded fourth in the North Sectional bracket with a 13-3-1 regular season record, knocked off number 13 seed Framingham last Monday in the first round in an exciting 3-2 overtime victory, they took on number five Somerville in a quarterfinal matchup last Wednesday at Chelsea Stadium
The Highlanders, who eliminated Chelsea from the tourney two years ago, were the 16th ranked team in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 with a 12-2-4 record. Somerville, the co-champs of the Greater Boston League, had advanced to the quarters with a 1-0 win over number 12 Brookline (which ironically had knocked the Red Devils out of the tourney last season).
Chelsea drew first blood 10 minutes into the contest when Carlos Martinez sent a nice through pass to Hugo Erazo just inside the box. Hugo adroitly made a move on the defender and then beat the Highlander keeper with a well placed shot. Somerville got that one back 10 minutes later and the teams remained deadlocked at 1-1 at the intermission.
Chelsea moved out to a 2-1 advantage 10 minutes into the second half on a corner kick play when defenseman Hector Ramirez, moving up into the box, headed in his third such goal of the season off the corner delivered by Dennis Martinez.
“Hector is just incredibly aggressive in the air,” lauded Protasowicki. “He has a knack for getting his head on the ball and then directing it to an open spot in the goal.”
However, in a repeat of the first half, Somerville notched the equalizer 10 minutes later to leave matters at 2-2.
The Highlanders pressed the attack ferociously in the final 10 minutes before overtime, but despite the Somerville onslaught, the Chelsea defense and keeper Jimmy Funes held firm. “Jimmy was great all game, but he was especially immense in the final minutes of regulation when he made some amazing stops in 1-on-1 situations,” noted Protasowicki.
Thus the Red Devils entered overtime for the second straight game. They regrouped during the brief respite before the start of the OT period and came out with determination. Minutes into the sudden death frame, Oscar Valle spotted Carlos Martinez in the corner of the box and sent a nice pass to his fellow senior forward. Carlos made a quick move on the defender and then unleashed a powerful shot to the upper left corner of the net, cleanly beating the Somerville keeper with top shelf accuracy.
“It was a great pass by Oscar and a great play and shot by Carlos,” said Protasowicki.
Red Devil joy filled the Stadium, as the dramatic shot sent the Chelsea team on its way to the North semis, the furthest tourney advance by a CHS soccer team in many years (if not ever).
But in the state tourney, unless you are the last team left standing, there is little time for celebration because your next foe is just around the corner. In this case for Chelsea, it was an underrated (both literally and figuratively) Billerica team that was awaiting them at Manning Field in Lynn on Friday.
Billerica, seeded 16th in the tourney, had reached the semis the hard way, defeating 17th seeded Cambridge 1-0 in a preliminary round game; knocking off the North’s top seed, Brighton, 1-0 (which was Brighton’s first loss of the season); and then toppling ninth seeded Peabody in the quarters, 3-1. Thus, Billerica was a battle tested squad which, like Chelsea, had won some tight matches.
A hallmark of Chelsea’s tourney wins had been the Devils’ ability to strike first. However, Billerica would prove to be the team to seize the initiative, reaching the back of the Red Devil net twice in the first 20 minutes. “We had not been accustomed to playing from behind, so their early scores took us out of our game a bit,” said Protasowicki. Chelsea head coach Mick Milutinovic called a timeout at that point to settle down his charges.
Indeed, the Red Devils began to play their kind of game, which soon paid off when Erazo was taken down in the box, awarding Chelsea a penalty kick. Carlos Martinez nailed the PK and the Red Devils were back in the game at 2-1 as the teams headed off for the intermission.
However, the Chelsea momentum proved shortlived as Billerica got back its two goal advantage with a marker 10 minutes into the second half. Chelsea faced a decidedly uphill battle at that point, but with about 15 minutes to go, Erazo put home a direct kick from just outside the box to give the Red Devils some life.
Chelsea began to press in the offensive end, but with the Red Devil defenders moving up out of necessity, it created chances for Billerica, which led to a goal and the 4-2 finale.
It should be noted that Billerica went on to the North final where it lost to Masconomet 3-2 in overtime, also at Manning. Masco had reached the finals with a 1-0 win over Medford, the GBL champ.
“It was a tough way to end the season, but we had a great year,” reflected Protasowicki. “We grew as a team and made huge strides for our program.”
Five Red Devils were named to the all conference team of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference (of which Chelsea was the league champion in the CAC’s Large Division), led by Carlos Martinez, who was named co-MVP of the CAC. He was joined by teammates Hugo Erazo, Jimmy Funes, Hector Ramirez, and freshman Dennis Martinez.
Red Devil boys, girls compete in EMass Meet
The Chelsea High boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Eastern Mass. Division 2 Cross Country Meet held Saturday at Franklin Park in Dorchester.
Leading the way for the boys was Joseph Arroyo, who covered the 5K course in 19:20. He was followed by teammates Francisco Colindres in 19:25, Edgar Ocana in 19:28, Chester Rath in 20:00, Jay Pedrero in 20:44, Jeff Estrada in 20:56, and Faisal Nasimi in 21:58.
On the girls’ side, Tatyana Almedia was the first Lady Red Devils across the line in 24:12. She was followed by Arandeni Ramos in 24:39, Neris Yanes in 24:45, Andrea Umana in 25:58, Yareli Sanchez in 25:41, Monica Hernandez in 26:45, and Patricia Guardado in 27:30.