Pentucket had little trouble advancing out of its group, shutting out each of its three opponents. The Avalance beat Pembroke 3-0 in their first game, Dalton 1-0 in their second and Worcester 3-0 to clinch their place in the semifinals.
Once there, Pentucket played what would turn out to be its toughest opponent of the tournament, Holy Cross from the Pioneer Valley League out near Springfield. Pentucket won the game 2-1, and in the state championship game against Sharon, the Avalanche blew out their opponents 6-0 to run away with the title.
“We certainly didn’t expect that,” Blanchard said. “Every game was certainly challenging. The boys just came together really well near the end of the season, and they started to string together some great games. In the end every opportunity we had we put the ball in the net.”
Blanchard credited his team for coming together late in the season and said that by the time they reached the MTOC, he knew they would have a great chance to win. He also singled out a handful of players, including goalkeeper Nate Constantino, an eighth-grader and assistant captain who allowed just one goal in the entire MTOC; midfielder Brian Edmands, an eighth-grader who scored the tying goal in the North Andover game and the first goal in the MTOC Championship game; sweeper Connor Mooney, a seventh-grader who scored the game-winning goal against North Andover; striker Sam Smith, a seventh-grader who scored the majority of the team’s goals; and stopper Liam McDonough, an eighth-grader and team captain who Blanchard said was the team’s leader on the field.
“He’s been our team leader for the season and he’s the guy who directs the field activity out there,” Blanchard said.
In addition to the ECYSA and MTOC championships, Pentucket was also awarded the tournament’s Team Sportsmanship Award. Rick Leblanc, the president of the Pentucket Youth Soccer Association, said that at this stage winning the sportsmanship award is nearly as important as the championship itself.