Collins’ goal lifts Rams over Bulldogs

Classical player Mary Collins (3) kicks the ball away from English player Asmita Mangar (19) during a soccer game against Lynn English on Monday night at Manning Field. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — The Classical and English girls soccer teams battled from start to finish, but in the end the Rams were able to capitalize on a late corner kick and walk away with a 1-0 win on Senior Night at Manning Field.

The game’s lone goal came with just 12 minutes left on the clock. Eliza Correnti took the corner kick and left it in a perfect position for Mary Collins to deflect the ball into the net with her body.

“Eliza has been working on that,” Classical coach Mike Schena said. “I knew she had a missile so I told her to work on some corner kicks. Mary Collins is our leader out there and she put it in with her body. There was nothing more rewarding than that.”

The goal was a long time coming for Classical, who had failed to take advantage of 10 other corner kicks throughout the game. 

“We had a lot of corner kicks,” Schena said. “We played our game and we were finally healthy. I finally have my whole team except for two players so it made me feel good. They played their hearts out. English played terrific too but I thought we dominated the game.”

The Bulldogs had a tough time creating any offense, but their defense held up strong for a majority of the night.

“We just let up way too many corners kicks,” English coach Ed McNeil said. “We do that where we get frazzled in our own end and we give up corner kicks. The game could’ve went either way. I thought we played better (Monday) than the first time we played them (0-0 tie). We had more scoring chances.

“It was a typical English-Classical game,” McNeil said. “They always go back and forth. My stomach’s in knots. I loved the way we played.”

English had a couple early scoring chances thanks to Melissa Zayas. An early free kick sailed high of the Classical goal and a few minutes later Zayas slipped by a defender and had a shot on net but Anna Flaherty made the save to keep the score tied.

The Rams got some pressure next, but failed to capitalize on four corner kicks and one free kick midway through the first half. Isabel McGaughey had a pair of great scoring chances but English goalkeeper Elysse Newson and defender Ravyn Rapley made some nice plays to keep Classical off the board.

The Rams controlled most of the game from there and with time winding down finally capitalized when Collins scored on Correnti’s corner kick to give Classical a 1-0 lead.

“I’m proud of my team,” Schena said. “It was a performance like no other by everyone from goalie to the strikers. The corner kicks are what we worked on in practice. We talked about not using your head and putting your body into it. It worked out. I’m just so happy.”

The loss stings a little more for McNeil. The longtime Bulldogs coach is retiring at the end of the season and Monday was his last game against Classical.

“This will be my last Classical-English game,” McNeil said. “It would’ve been nice to go out with a win or a tie, but I loved the way we played. They played their heads off. I’ve been on the losing end of many games but this was one of the toughest ones. They’re great kids, Classical gave me a gift at the end of the game and some of them had tears.”

Both teams wrap up the regular season later this week. English hosts Salem Wednesday (4) while the Rams are at Revere Wednesday (6).

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