It’s not something he worried about during the regular season, but once the Division 2 South tournament started, Wilmington boys’ soccer coach Steve Scanlon knew his team should be practicing their penalty kicks.
If Scanlon and his Wildcats ran into an evenly matched team, a penalty kick could decide if they play another game or go home for the season.
The Wildcats have worked on penalty kicks every practice since they clinched a tournament berth, just in case.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Wildcats met that evenly matched team in Bedford, and thanks to prior preparation, Wilmington emerged victorious. Behind junior Chris Saporito’s first goal of the season, third-seeded Wilmington reached the Division 2 North semifinals by defeating the sixth-seeded Buccaneers, 1-0.
"[Saporito] has been working on [penalty kicks] since the tourney started and he hits them pretty consistently in practice,” said Scanlon. “We went through our top five forwards, then we went in the next group. He was the next up.”
It took a little luck for the Wildcats to get to the shootout. After an evenly matched regulation, both teams took its chances in overtime. In the second overtime, Wilmington midfielder Drew Foley cleared the ball before it crossed the goal line. Then, with two minutes remaining in double overtime, Wilmington midfielder Colin Doherty blasted a shot from 18 yards that hit the post and ricocheted back into play.
Once in the shootout, Wilmington goaltender Luke Foley saved the first shot he faced, but at the end of five shots, Wilmington and Bedford were tied, 4-4.
If tied after five shots of a shootout, the game goes round by round until there is a winner. So in the sixth round, up came Saporito, who was able to find the back of the net to give the Wildcats a 5-4 lead.
Bedford had one last attempt, but Foley made the save.
Wilmington plays North Andover Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
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