LYNN — Although the St. Mary’s boys soccer team came into Monday night’s game against Archbishop Williams undefeated, the Bishops weren’t fazed by the challenge.
The Spartans won the game, 1-0 at Manning Field, but the Bishops, a Catholic Central League rival, gave them a hard-fought battle from start to finish.
“Williams is having a tough battle this season,” St. Mary’s coach Mike D’Agostino said. “They have a couple losses in some tough games. They’re always a great team and they always give us a good game. It’ll be fun when we visit them later in the season too.”
With the win, St. Mary’s remains undefeated on the season at 8-0.
The Spartans offense fired on all cylinders coming out of the gate. St. Mary’s moved the ball downfield for the majority of the first half, testing Bishops goalie Sam Hamer, a senior, early and often. Hamer made seven saves in the period, but he needed to make eight to keep the game scoreless.
Spartans junior Olu George converted on a corner kick in the 10th minute to give St. Mary’s a 1-0 lead. St. Mary’s junior Thiago De Oliveira dished the assist on the play.
“That was one of the set pieces that we’ve been working on in practice and it paid off today,” D’Agostino said.
“We did our set play on that corner kick and we did what we needed to do,” D’Agostino added. “We put the ball in the net and I was very pleased. We moved the ball around well. I think we could’ve moved it up and down a little bit better but it was a great game between two rival teams.”
St. Mary’s saw plenty of chances to add to its slim lead but Williams’ Hamer was tough to beat in net. The Spartans held their 1-0 lead at the midway point.
“I’m very pleased with the way things are going,” D’Agostino said. “Offensively, we’re playing well and our defense is still a rock. We’ve only let in three goals in eight games.”
Archbishop Williams senior Pat Hegarty looked to tie the game in the 57th minute but his shot was saved by Spartans goalie Richie Mateo. Bishops junior Brian Moriarty found himself in a one-on-one with Mateo in the 64th minute but the senior goalie denied the shot again.
Mateo finished the contest with nine saves, seven of which came in the second half, and the Spartans walked away with the 1-0 win.
“It’s huge, Richie played well in net for us,” D’Agostino said. “He’s a senior captain and he keeps us organized as our goalie. We have some issues to work on as a team but the momentum is going the right way for us. We’re 8-0 and that’s a great start.”
The Spartans now shift gears to preparing for Wednesday afternoon’s clash against Cardinal Spellman, another CCL rival, at Manning.
“If we play our game, we’ll be ok,” D’Agostino said. “Spellman’s another hard working team. It’s a strong conference this year and everyone’s giving us a good game. We’re only focused on Spellman but we’ll enjoy this win. Being 8-0 is great, it’s a great start and it hasn’t happened at St. Mary’s in a long time.”
With a victory on Wednesday, the Spartans will clinch a berth in the state tournament.