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Bloody Pioneers gut Wachusett; Penalty-kick rebound in OT wins.

Byline: Jay Gearan

LUNENBURG -- Charlie Long had a bloody nose and Chris Perkins a bloody knee, but both St. John's soccer players were smiling last night after the top-seeded Pioneers defeated fifth-seeded Wachusett Regional, 2-1, in overtime in a Central Mass. Division 1 semifinal.

With 2:25 left in OT, Long booted home the winner on a rebound following a penalty kick by senior Tyler Uppstrom.

The Pioneers were awarded the penalty kick after senior Chris Perkins was hauled down in front of the net as both teams scrambled for position.

The win propelled the Pioneers (21-1) into the final against Algonquin Regional at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium in Worcester. St. John's only loss was to the Tomahawks, 4-0.

The Mountaineers finished 15-4-2.

"This is unbelievable for our team," St. John's coach Ryan Gates said. "The opportunity to get back to practice and get ready for Algonquin now is what we wanted."

The Pioneers set up for the penalty kick with Uppstrom taking the shot. Wachusett goalie Andrew Dumas made a great save moving to his left, but the ball bounced off his hands and Long was right there to boot it home.

"Charlie saved me," Uppstrom said.

"The ball just came out on the right side and I was there to kick it in," said Long, who was elbowed in the nose earlier in the game and needed tissue in his nostril to stop the bleeding.

Perkins' bloody knee came after his leap in celebration on the track in front of the St. John's fans.

"This is what it's all about," he said. "We have a great rivalry with Wachusett and winning this game is big."

Both goalies -- Dumas for Wachusett and Mark Kotsopoulos for St. John's -- played strong games.

Defensively, Wachusett was led by Rob Felix, Pat Murphy and Chris Sanborn. St. John's got strong play from Conlan Orino, Paul Shaw and Mark Jones.

The Mountaineers pressured throughout, led by Pat Gaumond and Ryan Miller, but couldn't score. With 2:38 left, however, Wachusett tied it when a St. John's player inadvertently headed the ball into his own net.

With 25:29 left in the first half, St. John's took a 1-0 lead when Perkins booted a shot from 15 yards out into the right side.

"We were coming off a direct kick and I just saw the opening and booted it with my right foot," Perkins said.

NAME: ST. JOHN'S HIGH SCHOOL; WACHUSETT REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 13, 2009
Words:416
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