The Red Devils were handed their first loss of the season on Saturday when they were defeated, 34-13 by Whittier Tech. The Chelsea High football team knew that it would require their best effort to beat the mighty Wildcats, and one of the most frustrating aspects of the loss was the fact that the team came away knowing full well that they could have put up a much greater fight.
“We did some good things, but we didn’t play as well as we hoped,” said head coach Mike Stellato. “We didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball like we’ve done in previous games. In the second half, weren’t able to do things on offense that we’re capable of doing.”
The Red Devils were victimized by three crucial turnovers, two of which led directly to points for the Wildcats. The most costly of the three occurred in the fourth quarter, at a time when Chelsea was still within striking distance as they tried to rally from a 28-13 hole. The Red Devils had been forced to punt, but a bad snap resulted in a loose ball that the Wildcats recovered and ran in for their final touchdown of the game.
The game got off to a rocky start for Chelsea, with Whittier Tech scoring fourteen points before the Red Devils finally got on the board in the second quarter. A two-yard run by quarterback Nelson Molina (plus a Juan Martinez extra point kick) made it 14-7, but Chelsea committed the first of its two fumbles only minutes later. The Wildcats made them pay with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 22-7 lead.
Shortly before the half, Chelsea scored on a three-yard run by David Cortez. Whittier stopped Chelsea’s pass attempt for the two-point conversion, but an interference penalty gave the Red Devils another chance. This time, Chelsea tried to rush for the extra two, but could not get back into the endzone and were forced to settle for a 22-13 score at the half.
After a high-octane second quarter, both defenses tightened up at the start of the second half. Neither team was able to score in the third quarter, despite another fumble by the Red Devils. Whittier caught a positive break early in the fourth when they attempted a pass on fourth-and-long that appeared to be incomplete. However, the refs conferred and deemed that the receiver had caught and maintained possession of the ball, which gave the Wildcats a fresh set of downs. Three plays later, they scored to make it 28-13.
The officiating decision and the two turnovers put to waste a solid defensive effort for Chelsea in the second half. Martinez, Chris Acosta, Felix Torres, Warren Archer and Troy Crossley all helped slow down the Wildcat offense, but the Whittier defense was just as effective, if not more. The Red Devils were held to just ten total yards of offense for the entire second half.
The Red Devils (6-1) are still on top of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small standings, but they face a tough league opponent this week in North Shore Tech. Although they have a worse overall record than the Red Devils at 5-3, North Shore Tech is 1-0 against CAC Small teams and is coming off a dominant, 41-6 win over Mystic Valley Regional last weekend. The two teams will play in Middleton this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The boys soccer Devils secured at least share of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference title on Monday when they played to a 1-1 tie against Northeast Metro RVT. Chelsea could have the championship to themselves, depending on the outcome of Lynn Tech’s final game against Greater Lowell. Regardless, the Red Devils finish the 2009 regular season with an overall record of 12-3-2 and a record of 10-1-2 against CAC opponents.
Ordinarily, a winning team hates the thought of settling for a tie, but in this case, you are not likely to find any members of the Red Devils complaining about the way this game ended. Chelsea very well could have lost this game and, in fact, trailed until the game’s final minute.
It became apparent, early on, that this game would be a defensive struggle throughout. Northeast Regional had consistently, double-teamed Chelsea’s top scorer, Elvin Merino, in the first game of the year between the two teams. This time, the doubling was relentless and gave Merino virtually no opportunities to score. But the Chelsea defense was equally effective, holding Northeast without a goal until 20 minutes had passed in the first half.
The score remained 1-0 for the next 79 minutes of play, and the Red Devils soon found themselves running out of chances. But in the final minute of play, defenseman Jesus Barahona pushed the ball into the offensive zone and fired a hard cross in the direction of Carlos Cruz. Playing in a crowd in front of the net, Cruz somehow managed to squeeze between two defenders and score the game-tying goal with a diving header across the box.
The pairings for the Division 1 North tournament will be announced today. The Red Devils could begin their postseason play as early as this Saturday.
The girls soccer Devils ended their season with a record of 6-7-1 after beating Presentation of Mary Academy, 2-0 on October 21 and playing to a 0-0 tie against Mystic Valley Regional on October 26. In the end, the Red Devils came up just one win short of qualifying for the state tournament.
Katerin Romero and Elsi Cruz both scored in the win over PMA, and Michelle Le (normally a midfielder) had an outstanding game in goal filling in for injured netminders Victoria Perez and Cindy Cruz in the season finale.