It took Marblehead boys soccer head coach Scott Laramie just two words to describe the Wilmington team that had just beaten his team in the North Division 2 playoffs.
“Strong and physical,” said Laramie after the Wildcats rode a powerful second half to a 4-0 win on Sunday. “They play the way they’re supposed to play and they knock the ball around. We’re very happy to have played them. That’s exciting stuff.”
Though the teams were scoreless entering intermission, No. 3 Wilmington cracked the scoreboard just over two minutes into the second frame and advanced to the quarterfinals where they will host No. 6 Bedford.
With 37:21 to play in the second half, Kory McGilvray lofted a long throw in to the center of the goal. That’s where towering junior Chris Michelangelo leapt and headed the ball in, giving his team a 1-0 edge.
Midway through the half, James Murphy flicked a ball on net and though it didn’t find the back of the net, referees ruled that it crossed the goal line.
From nearly the exact same spot, McGilvray fired another throw in to the front of the goal, and Michelangelo cashed in again for a 3-0 lead with 4:57 to go. McGilvray capped the scoring with under two minutes to go, putting home a free kick after two teammates faked as if they were going to kick it.
“We have Chris the big man getting through,” said McGilvray. “He’s a big target and he has no problem winning the ball in the air, so I just find him. I know Chris will go and get it.”
McGilvray and head coach Steve Scanlon both said they believed having one week in between their final regular season game and their first playoff game impacted how the team came out in the opening half.
Scanlon echoed his junior defenseman’s sentiments that the long throw-ins give his time a major advantage.
“They’re huge,” said Scanlon. “It stresses out a defense big time when you can bomb them from both sides of the field and you have Chris who’s good at going and getting them. He’s a brave kid and goes after those balls. You can’t mark height like that.”
Following their win, Wilmington advanced to face Bedford on Tuesday at 4 p.m. on the pitch of Alumni Stadium. Bedford cruised past Shawsheen Technical High School in their initial playoff game.
“We’re thrilled to be moving on,” said Scanlon. “It’s survive and advance in the tournament and it can be very stressing. You have to be a real physical team, and you have to be a tough mental team to keep moving on.”