READING — For the first time in seven years, the Lynnfield Pioneers boys soccer team will be playing for a North sectional title. The Pioneers (16-2-2) punched their ticket to Sunday night’s North Division 3 championship game against No. 6 Wayland at Manning Field (6:30) with a 2-0 win over No. 5 Pentucket (13-5-3) Thursday at Austin Prep.
But it wasn’t easy as Lynnfield got off to a slow start with Pentucket controlling possession and pace of the game for much of the first 15 minutes, seemingly a step quicker to every ball.
As he has done all year long, Jonathan Luders who provided the spark to jump start the offensive attack, scoring the game-winning goal off his own corner with 16:36 left in the first half after his kick deflected off a Pentucket defender into the net. After that, the Pioneers found their footing. Luders added an insurance goal with 22 minutes to play.
Luders got things started when he fed Tommy Buston in the box. Buston ripped a shot that the Austin Prep goalie saved, one-handed style. The ball was loose in the box but nobody could get a foot on it. Buston then won a 50/50 ball on a clear attempt and found Max Sieger, who fed the ball to Luders breaking in on the right side. Luders ripped a low shot, that deflected off the far post into the net to make it a 2-0 game.
“It was tense early for the first 12-15 minutes or so, but we were just starting to turn it around when we got that lucky goal,” said Lynnfield coach Brent Munroe. “But Jonathan is that kid who creates opportunities, often in situations where there aren’t a ton of opportunities, but he made the play that led to that goal. That’s just what he does.
“When they were down a goal, I think they thought they could get that back, but our second goal was huge and seemed to take a lot out of them. I thought they thought that they could overcome one goal, but two was too much.”
Munroe singled out the strong play of Max Sieger and Michael Gentile.
“Max is just so hungry in the box and usually he is the one finishing, but tonight he pushed that ball to Jonathan on that second goal, which was a huge goal for us,” said Munroe. “He played great tonight and Michael was outstanding tonight as well. He didn’t practice this week and we didn’t even know if he would play, but he played great.
“It was a clean game with no bad-spirited fouls or trash talk and we knew that with Pentucket, that kind of stuff would not be an issue.”
As far as Wayland goes, Munroe said his team will have have to play its best soccer of the year if it hopes to move on to the state semifinals for the first time since 2006 and 2007 when the Pioneers won back-to-back North Division 3 titles and were runner-up in the state tournament.
“Wayland is a tough team coming out of very tough Dual County League, and they have four times more of a chore than we do in terms of having to play almost their whole schedule against Masco-level competition,” said Munroe. “We get lucky in that we only have Masco to deal with, so Wayland is used to playing 18 tough games.”