Playing with different rules, Wakefield-Watertown girls’ soccer teams set great example

Oct 5, 2020 by

Warriors run away with 7-0 victory

Published in the October 5, 2020 edition.

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — In a way, both the Wakefield and Watertown girls’ soccer teams are 1-0 to start the season.

While lined up at midfield after their first game of the season on Saturday, masks still on as they were throughout four quarters of a new type of soccer, the referees commended both teams for following every rule. 

In that regard, the coaches, referees, Wakefield High officials and fans scattered around Walton Field at the Galvin Middle School also deserve a tip of the cap. It’s just one game, but clearly everyone was ready. 

On the field, the Warriors rolled to a 7-0 victory. Senior Haley Faulkner led the way with two goals and junior Kayli Porter had four assists. Wakefield also got goals from junior Maeve Recene, sophomore Emma Shinney, freshman Fiona Recene, junior Ashlee Purcell, and sophomore Caroline Roberts. 

Junior goalie Bailey McDevitt made a few spectacular stops on her way to a shutout. 

As it turns out, pandemic soccer mirrors a typical game far more than a stop-and-start scrimmage that many in the state feared. A game with no throw-ins or head-balls felt odd, but only for a moment. 

The Warriors evidently spent plenty of practice time trapping balls in the air and keeping passes on the ground. They controlled the pace from the outset, with Shinney and Maeve Recene especially putting the pressure on the Raiders from the left side of the field. Recene finished a cross from Porter for Wakefield’s first goal of 2020 about five minutes into the contest. 

Wakefield’s junior forward duo Porter and Purcell were expected to build off a great season where they created a multitude of scoring chances with their speed and skill. They connected for Wakefield’s fifth goal late in the second quarter on Porter’s fourth assist of the half, this one played to space which Purcell ran onto and eventually finished after her first shot was blocked. 

While the Warriors got what they expected from those two, it was Shinney who was causing headaches for the Watertown defense early in this one, proving that Wakefield’s depth is a strength this season. 

Faulkner’s first goal made it 2-0 Wakefield. An indirect kick was earned by Wakefield just outside the 18. Porter faked a shot and tipped the ball to make it live, a play that will return to popularity during a season in which indirect kicks will be awarded for new rule infractions like heading or slide tackling, and Faulkner just barely got a shot on net before the defense collapsed. It was tucked neatly into the corner. 

McDevitt got some touches in the first quarter, her best was a sliding stop to break up a scoring chance. 

Wakefield continued to move the ball brilliantly in the second quarter, their through passes especially sharp as they used their speed to open lanes. Their timing was in midseason form, especially Porter who helped get Shinney in the goal column with another great find to make it 3-0. 

Wakefield struck again soon after, winning every 50/50 ball on their way to causing more trouble inside the Raider 18. A persistent Fiona Recene scored after a chaotic scrum for possession deep in Watertown territory and after Purcell’s tally, the Warriors were up 5-0 at halftime. 

The defense was steady throughout the game, getting strong play from senior Liliana Carioli, juniors Audrey Longo and Kaylee O’Rourke and sophomore Mary Kerrigan. Freshman Alexis Manzi made more than a few strong tackles after coming in off the bench. 

Faulkner’s second goal came in the third quarter. She had a shot stopped by the Watertown keeper but won it back after the ensuing punt and scored from distance on a stellar strike that dropped right over the outstretched hands of the keeper. It was fitting that the captain led the team in goals as she played a strong game in all facets. The Warriors always seem to have experienced senior midfielders to set the tone and Faulkner is this year’s leader in the middle. 

Wakefield cruised from there, with Roberts finishing the scoring on an assist by Purcell. 

The MIAA’s soccer modifications, emphasizes no contact among many other things. As most soccer coaches predicted, that is rule that is simply unenforceable. Soccer can’t be played without some contact.

The players were a little hesitant at the beginning in this new world of social distancing, but soon, the typical battles for possession ensued and to the referees credit, they didn’t stop the game as much as they communicated the rules. Postgame handshake lines have turned into a distanced, Revolutionary War-style salute which yes, may have seemed a little different and slightly awkward, but it was the perfect time for the referees to thank the players for stepping up and making sure the first game of the season went off without a hitch.

One of the referees said he had trouble enforcing mask rules in some summer leagues. There wasn’t one word of warning as each player and coach stayed masked up from the pregame to the postgame. So again, while the Warriors were victorious, both teams deserve credit for setting an example other fall sports can follow. 

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