Boys’ soccer beats St. Xavier for their first regional title in 17 years


AJ Spurlock

Manual’s team and coaches after their historic win. Photo by AJ Spurlock.

Aiden Bonilla

The Manual boys’ varsity soccer team edged out St. Xavier by a score of 3-2 at Ballard’s Lynn Stadium on Saturday, taking home the Seventh Regional Championship in their hunt for the state title.

The Crimsons were flying high after taking down undefeated KCD 1-0 in the regional semi-finals but were pressed early and often by a St. X squad. Headers were the name of the game, as the Tigers launched ball after ball into Manual’s 18-yard box. The breakthrough goal eventually came, with midfielder Kendrick Flaherty (#8,12) getting on the end of a corner kick taken by Matthew Azzara (#10,12) to make the score 1-0 to St. X.

Manual defended deep for the next thirty minutes, and at halftime, the deficit was still a singular goal.

As the teams switched sides, Manual started on the front foot, this time using the wind to their advantage as they too lifted ball after ball towards St. X’s net. Only three minutes in, they seemingly leveled the game after a header from Alik Olash (#12,12) went in off of the crossbar but he was ruled offside, negating the attempt.

It didn’t take much longer for a Manual goal, though, as a long throw from Liam Spurlock (#23,12) led to a goalmouth scramble, resulting in midfielder Joe Wilkie (#3,12) lifting the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

With twenty-seven minutes remaining, midfielder Shoma Lowber (#19,12) hit a long free-kick into the box which was parried in the air by the keeper and with some assistance from the wind, came back down onto the head of a leaping Spurlock, who put the Crimsons up 2-1.

With less than ten minutes on the clock, midfielder Sam Newport (#9,12) hit a free kick  from outside the box onto the post, before the ball ricocheted off the back of St. X’s goalkeeper and into their net, making the score 3-1.

St. X pushed for a second goal, and after a blocked shot in Manual’s box, one of the defenders was adjudged to have handled the ball, awarding the Tigers a penalty kick. The kick was taken and dispatched by Azzara to bring the score to 3-2.

St. X could not find a tying goal and the Crimsons hung on for a narrow victory.

“I’m feeling confident that we can win the tournament. We have a great team and better chemistry, which is something that gives us an edge over the competition,” Cole Wilson (#27,12) said.

“I was proud of how we kept our composure and didn’t let the early goal bring us down. We persevered and motivated each other to ‘get this bread’ as our coach would put it. We won not only due to our hard work and determination, but also our camaraderie,” Daniel Newport (#24,11) said.

Manual moves on to an outing away at region-8 champions North Oldham at 7 on Tuesday.