FEATURED NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS | June 29, 2021 1:04 pm | Matt Murray
2 Needham Teams Crowned State Champions at MTOC!
Our GU12 Needham Sharks and GU14 Needham Strikers entered the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions in two very different ways but both ended the weekend in the same spot, as State Champions!! Our GU12 Sharks showed all weekend long that they were a real contender for a championship as they dominated their group, scoring 15 goals… View Article
Our GU12 Needham Sharks and GU14 Needham Strikers entered the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions in two very different ways but both ended the weekend in the same spot, as State Champions!!
Our GU12 Sharks showed all weekend long that they were a real contender for a championship as they dominated their group, scoring 15 goals over the 3 games with 0 goals against! Flying high going into Sunday’s semi-final the girls were matched up with Norton.
It was obvious from the start that the girls were going to have to battle as Norton fielded a quality side with lots of size and soccer ability all over the field. But once again the Sharks found a way to get a goal in the second half and held on to advance to the finals where they were set to face a team in Topsfield that were the only team in the tournament to score more than our Sharks!
After a controversial call lead to a penalty kick for Topsfield, the Sharks found themselves down 1-0 early in the first half against a very strong team that looked to have enough to see the game out. However, the girls proved that they were more than just front runners as they locked in and mounted a come back that would be capped off with a game winning goal as time expired! When the final whistle blew on the game the Needham Sharks were State Champions!!
Our GU14 Strikers on the other hand had a run to the the finals that if it were written for the big screen, you probably wouldn’t believe it. Finishing 2nd in BAYS at the end of the spring season meant the girls would have to win the BAYS playoffs to qualify for a spot in the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions. However, after dominating the BAYS finals against the top seeded Natick, the Strikers fell just short in penalty kicks and their time as a team with NSC had seemingly come to an abrupt end.
But, as luck would have it, just as our Strikers had finished accepting the ending to their season (and NSC careers for some) and began heading off to summer, Needham received a call that Natick was unable to field a team for the tournament weekend and just nights before games were scheduled to kick off the Strikers were back in! On short notice the girls pulled together and were given a second life and opportunity to compete for a State Championship.
When the games arrived, the Strikers quickly showed they were not going to let this opportunity slip as they dominated each game out of the gates. However, with just 13 players available in the heat of a weekend, the girls were unable to keep clean sheets and when Braintree scored off an amazing volley with just seconds left to tie game 3 of the round robin at 2-2, it meant the Strikers were left having to watch the scoreboard to see if they would advance to the semi-finals as the wildcard.
Advance they did, and once again the girls would make no mistake in proving they belonged. Despite trailing 1-0 at the half to Ludlow, the Strikers thoroughly dominated and came out in the second scoring 5 goals and playing their best half of soccer all weekend long to secure them a rematch against Braintree for the State Championship.
The final result was a long time coming for the Strikers against Braintree and once again the girls didn’t make it easy for themselves as they fell behind in the first half 1-0. An amazing performance in goal by Amelie, making save after save to keep the Strikers in it, allowed for the girls to gain confidence and play their way back into it in the second half getting the game tying goal with just minutes left in regulation! A goalless over time period after a long, hot and exhausting weekend meant the Strikers would once again be facing penalty kicks. This time for a chance to be crowned state champions.
In a too good to be true fashion, all 4 of Needham’s first penalties were scored, leaving NSC GK Amelie Rijnbout, to make her final and biggest save of the weekend as she dove to her right to stop Braintree’s fourth attempt. Needham’s Cinderella story had finally come true as the final kick from the spot (pictured above) sealed the win and the Needham Strikers were officially State Champions!
The Needham Soccer Club would like to recognize all of our amazing players, coaches and parents for their support of these girls over the year and couldn’t be happier for 2 amazing groups who represent our community in the best of ways both on and off the field! While there is no way of knowing where their individual careers will go next we want to wish all our players success in the future and hope they all find pride in knowing that they will ALWAYS be Massachusetts State Champions!!!