Gaels punch their ticket to the postseason.
CLINTON - The Clinton High School (CHS) boys soccer team is headed to the postseason.
By capturing a 5-0 decision against Murdock on Wednesday afternoon, the Gaels qualified for the Central Mass. Division 2 tournament, marking the first District appearance by the Clinton boys in four years.
On Monday, the Gaels lost, 4-1, to league-leading Maynard.
Clinton, which has one regular season game left, owns a 9-7-1 overall record and is 5-4-1 in the Wachusett League D.
The Murdock game was dedicated to the memory of MacKenzie Hohl, who died in June from injuries sustained in a tragic accident. Hohl would have been a junior at CHS this year.
The Gaels wore special shirts with the letters MH on the sleeves in a tribute to their classmate.
"We dedicated this game to MacKenzie Hohl, who passed away last (school) year," Clinton coach Joel Goulet said. "She was a great kid, with a great personality, and it was nice to do something for her."
The Gaels didn't waste any time against the outgunned Blue Devils, scoring a goal at the seven-minute mark of the first half. Sophomore Stephen Tencati dribbled the ball at midfield and then crossed to senior Ardell Spinder, who one-timed it by Murdock goalkeeper Larry Ignelli.
A minute later, Clinton went up, 2-0.
After receiving the ball from teammate Jeff Tetreault, a sophomore midfielder, freshman Emerson Rivas hammered a shot into the left corner of the Blue Devil net.
The Gaels continued their offensive onslaught, breaking through for another goal at the 24-minute mark. Tetreault moved the ball along the right sideline, before dishing off to junior Anthony Innamorati, who rifled a bullet past a diving Ignelli.
Ahead 3-0, Clinton added to its lead with a goal at the 35-minute mark of the first half when two freshmen connected. Christian Berretto crossed the ball to Max Runde who hammered it home.
The Gaels owned a 4-0 lead at intermission.
The Clinton defense, led by Rivas, senior captain Helvert Martinez, junior Eric Barbosa and freshman Connor Pyatt, kept the Blue Devil forwards away from the Gaels' goal and sophomore keeper Ga Massicotte.
Clinton's control of the midfield continued unabated in the second half. At the 8:50 mark of the second stanza, Tencati pumped a bullet from 30 yards out past Ignelli for an unassisted goal.
Due to the strong Gaels' defense, Murdock's first shot on goal came at the 16:43 mark of the second half.
Ignelli kept his team in the game with 17 saves. Massicotte, who had three stops, registered the shutout.
"We played well and we moved the ball quickly," Goulet said. "We played two and three touches, and everybody got a chance to play.
"We had been struggling to score off corners, and we did a better job of that today," he said. "Most of our goals today came off of crosses."
Goulet, in his third year at the helm, was thrilled with his team's playoff berth.
"It means so much to the team to make it (to the Districts), but especially the seniors," Goulet said. "None of the seniors have ever played in the Districts.
"We are prepared for it, and we'll be ready," he said.
The Clinton field hockey team dropped a 4-0 decision to Wachusett League C powerhouse Littleton on Wednesday afternoon. On Monday, the Lady Gaels lost 4-0 to Hudson while, last week, Clinton defeated North Central Charter, 6-1.
The Lady Gaels own a 3-9-2 overall record and are 1-5-1 in Wachusett League D.
Against Littleton, Tiger senior captain Kim Lizzotte, one of the top Central Mass. scorers, gave her team a 1-0 lead early in the first half. After senior Fallon Schofield scored to make it 2-0, Lizzotte scored her second goal of the contest.
Littleton was up 3-0 lead at the half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Littleton junior forward Stephanie Gentile scored to make it 4-0, but then the Clinton defense, led by senior Shannon Sargent, junior Maggie Fontaine, sophomores Allison Bowser and Lexa Souza, and goalie Amanda Makela, a junior, shut the Tiger offense down, blanking them the rest of the game.
In the victory over North Central Charter, sophomore forward Amanda Hatch scored two goals and assisted on two others, while senior captain Emily Champagne added two goals. Senior captain Natalie Chase and junior Cassie Morrison scored a goal apiece.
"Our defense has been phenomenal," Clinton coach Susan Notaro said. "Every one of them has played well.
"Amanda (Makela) has been sensational in goal," she said. "Many of the (opposing) coaches and officials have remarked on how well she's played.
"I thought they came into their own in that (North Central Charter) game," she said. "They came in fired up and got the job done."
In the Wachusett A championships last week at the International's Oaks course in Bolton, Clinton, which finished the season 6-10 overall and 4-6 in the league, finished fourth.
The Gaels were led by senior captain Donnie Dobeck, who finished second, carding an 85.
Junior Josh Bahnick was fourth overall with an 85.
Dobeck finished in the top 20 with an 86 in the Central Mass. Division 2 tournament at Highfields Golf and Country Club, in Grafton, on Monday.
PHOTOG: Item photos/GRAHAM ENTWISTLE
CUTLINE: (1) Clinton senior Ardell Spinder works the ball. (2) Gael sophomore goalie Ga Massicotte prepares to make a save. (3) Clinton senior Hasan Sabri moves in on the ball during the Gaels' game with Maynard on Monday afternoon. (4) Clinton sophomore Allison Bowser controls the ball on Monday. (5) Gael senior captain Donnie Dobeck chips the ball in a recent match.