By Jim Sullivan
---- — After seven years of ALS Cup dominance, the Pentucket boy’ soccer team came to War Memorial Stadium in Newburyport Saturday afternoon and took the Cup right back home after beating the Clippers in a hard-fought contest, 2-1.
“This is the biggest game of the season for the guys,” said Sachems coach Christian Langlois. “This has become more than a one-game entity. The guys just love this game so much. It’s like we’re playing for the pride of the area, and it really has renewed the Pentucket/Newburyport rivalry.”
That rivalry simply makes both teams better, and after trailing all the way through the 10th annual ALS Cup, the Clippers took the lead in the first 10 minutes of the 11th annual tilt when Adam Traxler hit a corner kick that sailed over Sachems goalie Logan Sherwood’s head.
“We had the ball in their end for the first 15 to 20 minutes, it felt like,” said Langlois. “And then they were up, 1-0. It seemed to me that they had barely gotten the ball beyond the midfield. But that can happen. That is just the way that the game goes.”
Langlois’ boys regrouped and answered right back with 11 minutes left in the first half on a goal from Connor Beaton that slipped past Clippers goalie Shudee Wu’s right side.
The second half saw the Clippers controlling the game handily and pressuring new Sachems goalie Cody Sedler. But slowly and surely, the Sachem offense began making incursions into Newburyport territory. With 15 minutes left to play, Mike Salmonsen drew a corner kick of his own, allowing Sean Keegan the chance to bury past Wu’s left side to give Pentucket the lead for the first time in the contest. It also sent the Cup back to West Newbury where it has taken up a semi-permanent residence.
“Even though we spend a day with the Cup,” said Langlois, “we don’t even see it again for the next year; it goes into the trophy case at school. They just love it. It’s the game we get the most up for.”
Watching the Cup make its way out of Newburyport once again, Clippers coach Shawn Bleau was proud of his team’s effort.
“We battled and that’s all I can ask from our guys,” said Bleau. “This is how it’s been for number of years for some reason. We jumped ahead, and they evened things up. We carried the play in the whole second half, and they score. They had two shots in the second half, and I think we had about 10. But they put one in. It’s too bad. Our kids played hard and they deserve better. I feel for them and I feel for the seniors. ALS is about playing hard and that’s what our kids did today. So that’s what we’re going to take away from this.”
On the other side of the equation, the Newburyport girls remained undefeated in ALS Cup play, treating the lady Sachems to a 5-1 disappointment. Jaycee Triandafilou had the first Clipper goal just five minutes in, assisted by Amy Sullivan, who then assisted Abbie Bresnahan for Newburyport’s second goal 21 minutes later. Sammie Lor scored goals number three and four assisted by Triandafilou and then Sullivan. Aly Leahy had the Clippers’ final goal of the afternoon on a free kick.
“This is a big game for (our players),” said Clippers co-coach Kevin Sheridan. “They get a big crowd and get to play in the stadium for the Cup. They want to keep that Cup. But they also know what they are playing for, and it is important to raise money for research (to fight ALS). They work hard all week, selling tickets to get people here. It’s just a good day for soccer, for the girls, and it is a good day to think about something other than soccer too.”