Boys Soccer Advances To Second Round Of State Tournament

A late goal by senior striker Yeison Castro lifted the Whaler boys soccer team to a 2-1 victory in round one of the Div. 4 State Tournament over the Shawsheen Valley Rams Sunday afternoon. The Whalers entered tournament as the #9 seed, which may have given many people the idea that round one would be a cake walk against a #24 seed.

“What I learned most about the guys is really that I have been telling them all season long that playoff games bring the unexpected so you have to expect the unexpected and how do you respond, react from that moment forward,” head coach Rich Brannigan II said. “I liked what I saw. I liked how the team responded. I liked their reactions.”

David Lemus-Castro got the Whalers on the scoreboard first with a 30-yard strike 21 minutes into the first half. Lemus-Castro has been the Whalers best offensive player all year long and gave the Whalers a boost by carrying that play into the first playoff game.

The Whalers carried the play for the remainder of the second half but were unable to score again before halftime. They took a 1-0 lead into the second half.

The Whalers appeared to make it a 2-0 game minutes into the second half but the play was called offside. Shortly after, the Rams were able to tie the game 1-1.

Wes Thornewill and Max Beebe were anchors for the Whaler defense in this game. Thornewill notably made a great defensive stop racing from the left side of the field to negate a Ram’s rush and get the Whalers out of danger.

The Whalers shook off the opposing goal and continued to dominate the play. Pajorn Drysdale had another excellent opportunity for Nantucket at the 21st minute with a header, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

It was with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game when Lemus-Castro appeared to be letting the ball trickle out of bounds before he made a quick move to his left, physically separated himself from the defender on his back, and found some open space where he was able to feed Castro in the front of the net to give the Whalers a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give back.

Brannigan said while Lemus-Castro had a goal and assist on the two Nantucket goals, he felt like it was a team effort that led them to victory

“All season long our mentality has been to have our keepers do the least amount of work as possible,” Brannigan said. “That job starts with our striker to our last defender. We saw a couple of big tackles today. Those are the opportunities that make our goalie look good and not have to do all the work.”

The Whalers will travel to take on #8 Wahconah Regional on Wednesday, November 10, at a time to be determined, but the initial belief is that the game will begin at 4pm.

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